Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 |
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Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island
Small business owner Marcus Clavo of Marcus Cheesecakes tastes an ube cheesecake sample offered by mom Len Clavo on Saturday during the Grove Farm Market in Puhi.
Ferdinand Dosono of Kaua‘i Kim Chee works with Kamalei Contrades in grilling some eggplant he got from Mayette Loseto on Saturday during the Grove Farm Market in Puhi.
Shoppers at the Grove Farm Market line up for sugarloaf pineapple on Saturday at the Puhi open field behind Kaua‘i Harley Davidson.
Madi Jimenez of Mailelani’s, second from right, thanks a customer for her patronage on Saturday during the Kaua‘i Made pop-up for Small Business Saturday at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.
PUHI — The line of cars patiently waiting for parking at the Grove Farm Market was a testament to the success of small businesses on Saturday during the national Small Business Saturday campaign.
“Look at that line of people just waiting for pineapple,” said Dennis Esaki, a regular patron to the Grove Farm Market that is a collection of farmers, food trucks and more.
Small Business Saturday was created by American Express to celebrate and support small businesses and what they collectively do for the communities they do business in. It is a separate initiative from the traditional Black Friday campaign to stimulate business activity.
The description aptly describes the start of the Grove Farm Market at the height of the pandemic when the home of the original Saturday Community Market was closed across Kaumuali‘i Highway at Kauai Community College.
Most of the farmers participating in that venue were lease holders with the Grove Farm Company, and Grove Farm officials opened the open field behind Kaua‘i Harley Davidson to farmers and local fishers. In gratefulness and appreciation, many of the participating farmers would bring unsolicited contributions of their farm harvest to the Grove Farm office for distribution to others less fortunate than themselves.
“We were fortunate the state allowed us to do this,” said Sharyl Lam Yuen, the Grove Farm market monitor, on Saturday.
As the farmers and other vendors thrived, so did the market, to where local artists, entrepreneurs and crafters were brought in on the first Saturday of all even-numbered months, the next one occurring Saturday, the last day of collection for the Precision Fencing and Landscaping Toys For Tots campaign.
“I come to help almost every Saturday morning,” said Wilawan Meephol, who got her start with Big Monster sushi and Thai Kaua‘i at the former market at Kaua‘i Community College. “I go to my other job after 4 p.m.”
Ferdinand Dosono of Kaua‘i Kim Chee started with just jars of kim chee, and after listening to customers’ needs and suggestions grew to where he was training his grandson Kamalei Contrades to stoke the grill that included eggplants for a new dish.
“I’m not the cook anymore,” Dosono said. “My son Isaiah took over as the president of Kaua‘i Kim Chee. I’m just trying to see if these eggplants from Mayette Loseto, another Grove Farm Market vendor, can be used for eggplant torta. After seven years, it’s time for the next generation, and I’m thankful for all of the support we received from everyone.”
Loseto was excited to announce her friend opening a floral boutique starting Dec. 1 at Kukui Grove Center, where the shopping center celebrated Small Business Saturday by hosting 14 Kaua‘i Made vendors to a one-day, pop-up event.
“We’re participating because of loyalty,” said Dave Andersland of the Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Salts. “Laura, who started this from working with Aunty Lilikoi, never forgot the support and help she received from people like the Kukui Grove Center to get to where she is today.”
Similar to these featured small businesses, the common bond between small businesses is the support they receive from everyone, starting with their customers.
“We can’t forget that,” Dosono said. “We are so grateful.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or email@example.com.
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