Tuesday, May 17, 2022 |
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KAPA‘A — Neill Sams was up most of Friday night getting the pond ready at Orchid Alley in Kapa‘a.
The finishing touch came Saturday morning when Deedee Gorospe brought over some koi, or Japanese carp, to complete the orchid garden.
“Everyone can have one of these in their backyard,” Sams said. “This is just one of the new facets of Orchid Alley.”
The orchid shop, tucked between two buildings along Kuhio Highway in Kapa‘a town, unveiled its new look and personnel during the 15th anniversary celebration, Saturday.
“This garden concept is great,” Sams said. “We should take this to Philadelphia when we go to the Philadelphia Flower Show in March. We just need someone to help pay to transport these things over there, but we know it will be a hit if we can get it there.”
Jennifer Lueck, a marketing and business development consultant originally from Phoenix, Ariz., joined forces with Neill Sams and Fely Sams to re-evaluate the future of Orchid Alley, operating in the same alley from its inception 15 years ago.
Lueck, an orchid grower for 10 years in Arizona, said the meeting with the Sams was just lucky.
“My fiancé, Jack Delaporte, and I were here on Kaua‘i before and decided we wanted to come here to live,” Lueck said. “We left Arizona with a whim and a prayer, and as luck would have it, while searching for a place to stay, we found this place where orchids were grown.”
Pursuing that lead further led Lueck to the Sams. The two talents merged when she was chatting over coffee with Fely Sams, who manages the retail side of Orchid Alley.
“A majority of the changes we’re making we envisioned for some time, but Jen really helped us bring it to fruition,” Neill said. “We had fun doing all this work; we just needed a reason to do it.”
Lueck, functioning as the Orchid Alley director of development, worked to develop a new corporate identity and branding campaign to support the organization moving forward.
One of those initiatives includes partnering with the Cooperative Education Department at Kaua‘i Community College to develop an in-house internship program which offers student interns credit for real-life, on-the-job experience.
For the past four months since Lueck appeared on the scene, the Sams have been working to perform a complete greenhouse renovation and updated shop design which allows customers more direct viewing of the live orchid plants and offers a more open and whimsical atmosphere created through the creative use of paint schemes.
“People always tell me we’re Kapa‘a’s hidden treasure,” Fely Sams said. “We really wanted to carry that feedback throughout the new layout. Our goal was to make the shop more inviting, a place for people to linger and truly enjoy the natural beauty of the orchids we offer.”
Neill Sams said the space hasn’t changed, just the way everything is laid out, including the installation of the garden pond, or specimen setting which featured colored fog machines creating a surreal atmosphere in a garden setting.
“We found the log which had suffered a lightning strike in Koke‘e and combining it with some of the award-winning orchids and other natural specimens, we have a unique experience for customers,” he said.
The complimentary garden will be supported by donations (no coins in the fountains, please) and is dedicated to his long-time mentor, Tadao Nishio, who passed last year.
During the celebration where Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. did the untying of the celebratory ribbon unveiling the new aspects of the shop, Orchid Alley offered free orchid seminars, live hula performances by Leilani and Darryl Low’s students and the raffling of several orchid gift baskets which the proceeds benefiting both the Kaua‘i Orchid Society and the Garden Island Orchid Society.
With the attendance of the International Philadelphia Flower Show in March 2012 and the growing desire to maximize opportunities in the turbulent economic climate, the Sams are very excited about the future.
Visit www.orchidalleykauai.com or call 822-0486 for more information.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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