Market vendors ‘produce’ despite holiday

LIHU’E — “Maybe they all went to the beach,” Glenna Ueunten mused while waiting on the starting whistle.

Ueunten was one of over two dozen vendors who gathered at the Kukui Grove Center parking lot for the mall’s weekly farmers’ market yesterday afternoon.

“They probably bought too much over the weekend, and now they gotta worry about the leftovers,” laughed Dean Nakayama of Kauai Bakery & Cinnamon.

Lei and Dean Nakayama are regular customers at the market hosted by managers of Kukui Grove Center, and for the day following New Year’s Day, had some of their Kauai Bakery & Cinnamon employees doing the shopping for assorted greens, citrus, and whatever else was available.

Dean Nakayama said this was the first day he could actually catch his breath following the holiday rush at their bakery at Kukui Grove Center. “It (the holiday season) was better than last year,” Nakayama said.

Although final figures are not yet tallied, Nakayama said, it appeared that overall there were more people at the mall during the holiday season, and at Kauai Bakery & Cinnamon. The line of customers snaked around and overflowed outside the store.

“It could be a little busier, considering the time of year,” Ueunten said.

But she was not complaining, and took advantage of the lull to enjoy the sunshine.

Earlier in the day, Ueunten and several of the Kukui Grove Center farmers’ market vendors had spent a couple of hours at the county’s Koloa Sunshine Market at Anne Knudsen Park. Ueunten likened that customer traffic to that at the Kukui Grove Center location.

Linda Yoshii, another of the mall’s regular vendors, was juggling between deliveries, the Koloa market, the Kukui Grove Center market, and relatives who still needed to pack before embarking on a trip to the Philippines.

“I wasn’t going to come today,” Yoshii said. “Too much to do. But I didn’t want to call them, so I just brought one box of produce to sell, and then, I have to make deliveries.

“I still have my Christmas covering,” Yoshii said, pointing to her poinsettia tablecloth. “But I’m so busy, I forgot to bring my umbrella, so now I’m going to boil.”

The less-than-brisk market-place led to discoveries hidden away between baskets of produce.

A mutated tangelo resembling a penguin sat between baskets of white pomelo (jabon) and ruby red grapefruit at Ueunten’s tables.

“It doesn’t happen like this every day,” Ueunten said of her creation. “But this one looks like a penguin, and I like penguins. If you want it, it’s $5.”

“Who’s putting faces on the fruit?” one customer asked as she studied the pomelo, the bird-like tangelo not catching her eye.

Ueunten explained that if you look at the “faces” on the pomelo, there is a “w” which signifies to her that it’s the white variety as opposed to the pink pomelo which she also sells.

“I still haven’t figured out how to use the ‘p’ yet,” she laughs. “One day …”

In the meantime, there was still a good supply of produce and fruits available, and both Ueunten and Yoshii were looking ahead to their week’s schedule.

Ueunten will be heading to the Kalaheo Sunshine Market today, Tuesday, Jan. 3, Hanapepe this Thursday, Jan. 5, and Vidinha Stadium this Friday, Jan. 6.

Meanwhile, Yoshii will head the other way, taking in the Kapa’a, Hanalei, Waipa, Kilauea, and the Saturday-morning one and, if she has time, perhaps the Vidinha Stadium Sunshine Market this Friday, Jan. 6.

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