A leasing agent will proclaim, “location, location, location” to entice business owners to “stretch” their budget and find a prime spot for their business. For certain, location does matter, but it matters much less than many people realize. Times have changed.
Kailua-Kona has some easily defined areas for businesses:
- Kohanaiki area. This goes from Queen Kaahumanu Highway mauka for a few miles.
- New Industrial Area. This area is most well-known for a few big box stores: Costco and Home Depot. There are a few hundred small and medium-sized businesses in this area.
- Old Industrial Area. It covers the area between Kuakini Hwy and Queen Kaahumanu Highway (mauka-makai), with most of the area on Kaiwi Street and the side streets of Pawai, Alapa, and Luhia Streets.
- Alii Drive. From the pier to the Royal Kona Resort (the in-town portion), most known for restaurants and tourist shops.
- Kuakini Hwy. The area from the Old Airport to Lako Street.
- Kona Coast Shopping Center and Lanihau Center, the two little strip malls on Palani Rd.
- Crossroads Shopping Center, anchored by Safeway on Henry Street.
- Kona Commons: Petco, Office Max and some chain restaurants.
- There is very little Class A office space in Kailua-Kona. http://www.areadevelopment.com/AssetManagement/Directory2013/primer-differentiating-office-space-class-26281155.shtml
The first point is that if you are going for the tourist crowd, locating your business as close to Alii Drive as possible makes abundant sense. That’s where almost all the foot traffic is.
Now let’s consider the value of the shopping centers—Kona Coast, Lanihau, Kona Commons and the Crossroads Shopping Center. These are the only places with a big volume of street/parking lot visibility by residents and visitors. All the other places have relatively poor drive-by traffic combined with street visibility. In other words, if you are looking for customers to see your business while driving around town, there are few good options.
Which brings me to the point of this blog post…
The best location for your business to be in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii is online!
The Kohaniki, Old and New Industrial areas in Kona are just fine for most types of service and retail businesses if you have a solid online presence. If you’re selling fabric or kitchen tiles, signs or legal services, your customers are likely to find you online. Referrals and other advertising work, too, but, in the end, many customers will come to your through your website. To fail at online marketing is to fail at a modern business necessity.
In the “old days,” businesses had to pay big money to compete for prime, street visible locations because that was how people would discover new businesses.
That is certainly a good way to attract new customers, but we have seen many businesses skip the high costs of a prime location and do a superior job of online marketing.
So, the next time a leasing agent starts harking about the value of a great location, keep in your mind that the best locations these days are at the top of Google, Yahoo, and Bing.