Thursday, February 9, 2012

Aina Ola Bulk Soap Refill Shop

Some eco-entrepreneurs opened up the Aina Ola soap refilling shop in Haiku. The basic idea is to bring your own containers, and reuse them to buy liquid soap: dishwashing, laundry, or hand soap. 

The idea is earth-friendly, and it'd be nice for this small business to succeed. Aina Ola is located in a little stand alone building at Pauwela Cannery, on West Kuiaha.  It's the same building that used to house Wings, a boutique of Maui made jewelry and screen printed clothing. Wings had some difficulty at that space, including a major robbery with significant cash and jewelry stolen.  Wings has moved on to a bigger space in Paia and is doing quite well. 

Lehua Vander Velde, a life and holistic coach, was the one who took me for an outing at the store. Since she's been doing a lot of small business coaching, she's becoming more and more akama'i (Hawaiian for smart, in a practical and useful kind of way) about what makes a business succeed. 

Aina Ola Soap Refill Shop, at Pauwela Cannery.

The location is not bad - it's visible from the road and easy to get to. 

Tree mural says "Each leaf is a bottle saved."

Aina Ola Price Sheet - Bulk Prices

A few things Lehua noticed:

  • Although Aina Ola does take credit cards, the owner may not have the credit card swipe device or square to take cards that particular day. They are waiting for a second device. Credit cards are essential, as we know. 
  • There was one chair at the table inside, but two would be better.
  • For people unused to liquid laundry soap, it's hard to know how much to use without some guidelines (like a card with directions) or a measuring scoop. 

Honestly, I'm rethinking this post - I think it's hard enough to be a small business and to start out bravely into a new area. No one else is doing this on Maui.

Lehua also mentioned some feng shui ideas, but I wasn't as focused on the things that she noticed, but the prices need to be more competitive with the prices at Mana Foods or Costco which also sells earth friendly liquid laundry soap and dishwashing soap. I didn't even buy any soap, because I have plenty of liquid soap at home!  I might have bought something else, in the range of a few dollars, if they had had other things to sell. Actually, I was fully expecting to be able to buy something other than liquid soap, just to support them in some fashion. 

Maybe they could combine the soap business with another kind of business, like a mini art gallery, since not everyone is wandering around buying liquid soap, and it would appeal to more people. We would love this Haiku business to succeed!


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