After opening its second statewide location on Oahu less than two years ago, Kauai-based surf shop Tamba Surf Co. closed its Haleiwa location last month.
“Basically, it was quality of life. I was just working too much, flying back and forth from Oahu to Kauai,” Tamba owner Saa Tamba Ginlack said. “I was working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Ginlack, a resident of Kapaa born in Waimea, said he didn’t want to go through the same grind like he did with his first Tamba store, which sells clothes and surf gear.
“Living that stressful life — day to day, life to life, trying to make ends meet again — I already did that with this store,” he said.
It would have taken 3 to 5 years for the Oahu store to sustain itself, Ginlack said.
“It’s same with the store on Kauai. It didn’t happen overnight,” he said. “It took a long time. I realized it was happening there on Oahu, but during the same period I was taking the time to make this store successful on Kauai.”
For Ginlack, the Kapaa location took almost a decade before he hired his first worker. Before that, he worked nights, cooking and bussing table.
“I didn’t make any money for five years,” he said. “It was just a hobby to see if I could do it or not. Slowly I just stuck at it. Year seven or eight, I hired my first worker.”
The next year, Ginlack was able to quit his night job.
“It took nine years when I could just survive off the store,” he said. “That was really a good feeling to live off your own business. I would say year 11, I hired a couple full-time workers and it just kept growing from there.”
Ginlack said he couldn’t have been successful without the help of the community.
“It’s been wonderful. You get aunties and uncles wearing Tamba stuff, but I think people are just proud to see the store grow,” he said. “I think people are proud of the brand. It’s just a representation of Kauai.”