WAINIHA — Adorned with fresh ti leaf lei and flower arrangements, Wainiha Country Market opened its doors at 7 a.m. Saturday.
Inside the market, Joell Edwards is organizing inventory while daughter Gabrielle Edwards preps to begin ringing up customers at the register. Meanwhile, Jim and JD Edwards are doing some behind-the-scenes work in preparation for the big day.
Joell Edwards tells how she, Jim, Gabrielle and JD have been working hard and having fun together as new business owners of the market. “Starting out, the four of us are going to be here all the time. We want to let everyone know that we’re here for them.”
“I am really excited. I have been waiting for months for this to happen,” said Denise Hamyoung, a lifelong North Shore resident. “The thing I am really excited about the most is that if I need something, like an onion or a potato, I can come down and get them. I was amazed when I saw cauliflower rice in here. She’s going to carry some items that everyone is going to need, and now we don’t have to go to Hanalei to get it.”
Community members flocked to the grand opening barbecue to check out the market and festivities, which included hot dogs, beans, samples of products and more for the community from noon to 2 p.m.
County Councilmember Felicia Cowden was on hand for the grand opening. Cowden emphasized the importance of the area as a gathering place as well as a place where, during the 2018 flood, residents would donate goods to neighbors who fell on hard times.
“I am so happy that the Wainiha Country Market is opening as well as the Makana Learning Center (next door to the market), with the gift of both food and free educational support, so that our kids can get what they need (nutritionally) and learn.” said Cowden.
Raymond Marty, of Kekaha, has been temporarily staying in Wainiha to help complete construction on the store, and was enjoying the festivities.
“I worked at Habitat For Humanity, so that’s how I met Jim and Joell. They told me that they were taking the store over, and that’s when they asked me if I wanted to help work on the store with them. It’s really great to see the store opening. It’s important to the community,” said Marty.
Jim Edwards also worked with Habitat For Humanity, helping to assist residents with damaged homes following the 2018 flood. Joell Edwards also works with Malama Kaua‘i as the food access and Farm to School project director.
Janet Mello was the previous business owner and lease holder when the location was the Wainiha Store, also known as “Last Chance.”
Local meat and produce is for sale at the market, as well a wide variety of products including but not limited to ice cream and Ono Pops, organic foods, cold and hot coffee, bottled water, Kaua‘i-made products, hygiene items, medicine and more.
Wainiha Country Market is also able to accept EBT transactions at checkout.
Coming soon, there will be bait and tackle for sale at the market, and JD Edwards will open Swell Shave next to Wainiha Country Market.
Former Hanalei School teacher Karla Rowan recently opened the Makana Learning Center in the space in the far right of the shopping area. Students can go there for extra educational assistance and help with homework during days off from school. Home-school students can receive help at the center as well.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 431-4313.
Monique Rowan is a lifelong North Shore resident who lives in Wainiha and writes periodically for The Garden Island.