LIHU‘E — Mallory Roe was doing a thriving business as a wedding destination photographer before the appearance of COVID-19 in Hawai‘i.
Her landlord, Gina Kanelopoulos was also enjoying success with her sales of Emi Road Honey from her Koloa farm through the county’s sunshine markets.
“I was getting bookings, regularly from everywhere,” Roe said. “Then, when the COVID-19 hit, everything was 180 degrees. I lost all the bookings for the next 60 days. Some called and re-worked their appointments, but everything disappeared.”
The same thing happened to Kanelopoulos when the county shut down the farmers market due to concerns surrounding the virus.
“I am using my photography talents and web skills in new ways,” Roe said. “My landlord who lost her sales after the farmers markets closed would need to sell her honey online.”
The needs of the two ladies sparked a new idea of creating a platform for not just honey, but for other small businesses who had been generating much of their income from farmers markets, and shops around the island that are now being shut down by the arrival of COVID-19.
“This platform will be a huge way for our island to continue buying local products and supporting our local economy and community,” Roe said. “From the platform, customers are able to order products from all the local participating vendors online, and having product either shipped, picked up, or delivered.”
Discussions with the county’s Office of Economic Development proved encouraging and Roe launched www.kauailocalmarkets.com, late Monday night offering a variety of goods from local produce, gourmet goods, clothing, health and wellness, home and living, jewelry, art, and more. The website also has a link for interested vendors, and features an easy “Add to cart” shopping experience.
“I was getting emails out to anyone I knew who could benefit from this,” Roe said. “I’m still trying to find people. Overnight, I got more than a handful of responses so it looks promising.”