By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A gift shop selling Big Island-grown coffee, macadamia nuts and is opening today, right on time for stocking-stuffer shopping.
Big Island Trading Co. is holding a soft opening in its location at the site of the former Jackson Volvo dealership at 1672 Kamehameha Ave., near Ken’s House of Pancakes.
The retail gift shop, as well as an adjoining coffee shop set to open late next month, are the brainchildren of businessman Ed Olson.
“We’re featuring the products that we grow, primarily macadamia nuts and coffee,” Olson told the Tribune-Herald on Monday. “OK Farms (Rainbow Falls Coffee) is one of the coffees, which incidentally was just rated No. 2 in the state out of all the coffees in this fine coffee state. But we also represent Ka‘u Coffee Mill, which had three of the coffees in the Top 10 at the international conference earlier this year this January. So we have lots of good coffees.
“We also have all of the products of the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co., which is also a company owned by the Edmund C. Olson Trust, so it’s products from our properties. This will give Hilo the chance to buy the variety of macadamia nuts that you can buy at the factory, but that are more limited in selection in the supermarkets and drug stores.”
Olson said the store is looking for additional Big Island products from other suppliers and will ultimately have “a broad expanse of Big Island-produced products, very competitively priced.”
“We are the Big Island Trading Co. and we want to have the Big Island’s products, such as artists’ and crafters’ products, things like that.”
Kimberly Ciez, Big Island Trading Co.’s manager, said the store’s hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week.
“It’s all Big Island products,” she said. “It’s all made in Hilo or the Big Island and that’s it. We’re not getting anything from the other islands; it’s just Big Island-made stuff. That makes us unique.”
One of the more interesting inventory items is Spam-flavored mac nuts from Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co.
“It’s really popular at the Hamakua Plantation’s retail store so we’ll see if Hilo likes it. I don’t know if people actually know that it has this flavor,” she said.
Asked if the mac nuts really taste like the iconic canned luncheon meat, Ciez replied: “Pretty close to it.”
In addition to the coffee, mac nuts and other foodstuffs, the store will carry other products manufactured on the Big Island.
“We do have some T-shirts,” Ciez said. “We’ll have some caps and we’ll have some coffee mugs and some tote bags. We also have ornaments.”
Olson said that a grand opening is planned when the coffee shop, which will carry only Hilo and Ka‘u coffees, brews its first cup for the public, sometime around Jan. 20.
“It’ll be a nice coffee shop,” he said. “It’ll have outdoor seating for 80 to 90 people and feature all our coffees that we grow ourselves.”
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.