Kona Impact has been in business nearly ten years. We recently took a deep look at the kind of businesses that have been the clients that have kept us in business; we found that almost all are locally owned. This is despite the fact that locally-owned businesses comprise only a small part of our local retail economy.
The big box stores: Walmart, Target, Costco, Home Depot, Kmart have huge amounts of revenue, yet very little of that profit stays on the island. With few exceptions, most of their products are shipped in, and all the profits are shipped out. Not to mention most of the well-paid management jobs (and decisions) are not here.
For lack of a better way to say it, Kona Impact wants to be known as a “local evangelists.” That is, we want to sing the praises and shout from the mountain tops about the value of local businesses. To that end, we will try to draw attention to local gems of local entrepreneurship.
I’ll introduce two today. They are NOT our clients, but I am a customer of them.
Imagine if just ten percent of the art and office supplies purchased at Walmart or Office Depot were spent locally? My guess is that would add a job or two to our economy and keep a few hundred thousand dollars on island, money that would circulate again and again through our economy.
Akamai Art Supply & Kona Coast Office Supply – Big Box Alternatives
Akamai Art Supply, located above Home Depot, has just about every art supply you could imagine. I have bought glue, poster boards, notebooks and colored pencils here. I wish that I had some, well, any, artistic ability, as I think this would become a hangout spot for me. What I do buy, however, is always very reasonably priced, and the selection is exceptional.
Next time you’re thinking about buying art supplies, stop by Akamai. They probably have what you need, and the money you spent here will stay here. I would also add that by supporting small specialty shops, you are keeping them in business. So the next time you need a tube of lime green paint right away, they will be there for you.
Kona Coast Office Supply
This is another store that we want in the community. Where else can you buy one sheet of Baronial Ivory paper? If you want a whole ream, they have that, too. My point is that by buying your boxes of paper, pens and desks here, you are supporting a place that also has the obscure and hard-to-find items.
When Office Depot opened a few years ago, I, too, went it wide-eyed and excited about all the “possibilities.” What I found, however, was low-quality furniture (that I had to assemble myself) and prices that were comparable to Kona Coast Office Supply. So, in the end, spending my money locally made a whole bunch more sense.
For certain, you will, at times, see me in Walmart. I don’t know of any locally owned businesses convenient to my home or work that sells motor oil, dental floss or Band-Aids. I do know of local businesses that sell paper, pens, drawing pads and adhesives. For them, I will choose to buy local.