Big Blue Buddha turns Local

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A container of Su-Jok massage rings from Korea can be found at the Big Blue Kaua‘i Local.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Udi Gal and Jo Lesoine, wearing several Larimar pieces, plant roots from seven years of experience as the Big Blue Buddha.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A selection of larimar rings at the Big Blue Kaua‘i Local.

KAPA‘A — Jo Lesoine of Big Blue Kaua‘i Local is worried about scores of people showing up Saturday and Sunday because of the COVID-19 social distancing and large gatherings rules.

“We want people to celebrate with us,” Lesoine said. “But under the pandemic rules, we can only have 10 people in here at a time. We don’t want people to have to wait too long.”

Lesoine joined with Udi Gal to plant the experience of seven years of farmers markets, street fairs and craft fairs into the small shop wedged between the Wahine Weenie’s Sandwich Shack and the Orchid Alley in downtown Kapa‘a.

In fact, one of the entries into the Big Blue Kaua‘i Local is through the back door that opens into the Orchid Alley floral fantasyland.

“The name was Neill Sams’ idea,” Gal said. “We originally started doing business as the Big Blue Buddha out on the streets. Neill said the ‘Buddha’ has got to go, and instead, it’s ‘Kaua‘i Local.’”

The title is appropriate because the couple not only makes available the jewelry they create out of stones and sterling silver but has offerings ranging from clothing to more exotic knotting using traditional knots.

“These are people we’ve met and worked with over the seven years we sold at farmers markets,” Gal said. “They’re all Kaua‘i local, and continue to sell at the markets.”

Lesoine said they have been working to build out the space since June, and finally are satisfied with their work to allow customers inside to shop.

“We feature many of our favorite local artisans who now have little to no other sales opportunities,” Lesoine said. “Nearly all of the artisans we represent live here, and the work they produce are unique and sometimes exotic. These items, including the jewelry containing photos, are all made here. The jewelry with photos are from a couple from O‘ahu where the guy is a photographer and the girl is an artisan. They combine their talents to come up with jewelry that’s mounted on a card containing the actual photo the piece is derived from.”

Lesoine said they shop for stones in India and create the jewelry pieces around the actual stone using sterling silver resulting in not-high prices.

“We even have pieces — either earrings or pendants — using larimar, or The Dolphin Stone (due to its unique blue coloration),” Lesoine said. “Larimar is pretty rare and was only discovered in the 1970s in the Dominican Republic. It’s formed inside lava.”

Other unusual items include woodwork by Bruce Borth, scratchboard from Michelle Dick, and ceramic pieces from a new Kilauea artisan. Photography by Kaua‘i photographers, a crystal assortment, and clothing from “artists who sew” round out the offerings in the 100-year-old building.

For the grand opening this weekend, Lesoine said there will be discounts available to celebrate.

The Big Blue Kaua‘i Local is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We take Monday off,” Lesoine said. “When the tourists come back, that might not happen. We enjoy it while we can.”

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