Newsletter May 2019

Our hard work is paying off!


A note from Laurie Carlson, Chair, Board of Directors

I wanted to share with you all what’s been happening at Kokua Co-op, as it’s been a while since we successfully completed our share drive and got our interim manager on board.

The very first thing that’s been done is to bring in more goods that support your shopping needs. Our new Interim General Manager, Wynston Estis, has been working with our staff to organize our products to create a better shopping experience. Breakfast items are now with breakfast items, lunch options and snack options are all placed together.


Local Vendors

Slowly but surely, more product is gracing our shelves. Grocery has been reduced to make room for expanded café seating, as well as prepared deli and bulk food offerings. We are focusing on local market niches where we can compete. When possible, we will replace or supplement traditional grocery items with bulk options that are more environmentally friendly. Part of being a neighborhood grocery store is offering convenience, not necessarily the cheapest prices or the most complete selection, but items that are vital and that move quickly—think 7-11 of natural foods.

We are adding new local vendors and prioritizing Hawaii produced foods. We will be getting goat cheese from Sweetland Farms in Waialua, venison from Makana Market, various breadfruit products from the Ulu Co-operative, freshly baked goods from Cakeworks, and freshly roasted Hawaiian coffee, for starters.

We will be setting up regular brewed, Hawaiian coffee service. Shawn Steiman, board member, and otherwise known as Dr. Coffee (PHD from UH’s CTAHR) is an experienced provider of coffee and coffee services. He will be aiding us in this new venture, insuring that our brew is fresh and flavorful.



Right now we are working on a facelift for Kokua. Over the next few weeks we’ll be painting the exterior and interior, cleaning & polishing the floors and adding LED lights to our existing fixtures to brighten things up. We’ve already begun rejuvenating the courtyard area with pruning, trash removal, new trees and plantings. We also plan to add indoor café seating, significantly update our grocery dry goods layout, restock organic fruit and vegetable options to the produce department and rebuild our dairy/refrigerated grocery options.



May will bring two days of celebration – we are thankful for Kokua's relaunch and for all of you who have made it possible. Friday, May 10, from 4-8pm will feature music, beer, BBQ, fish and jackfruit tacos, and other treats. Saturday, May 11, 10am-2pm will be an opportunity to meet some of our farmers and producers, sample new products, buy locally grown flowers for Mother’s Day, learn about local banana diversity and the Slow Food movement.

We need you!


In addition to the above “face-lift” projects, we'll need volunteers for Kokua’s thank you celebration on May 10 & 11. Do let us know if you’d like to help in any area—just email and let me know what you are interested in.

We have conferred with a variety of local experts on the store and natural foods ecosystem and are continuing do so. Former locally-based Whole Foods managers, design firms, solar consultants, landscape architects, and branding experts are all on board. They will continue to aid us in making the necessary changes in store operations and marketing. 

Sales have been increasing as more product is available. In January, we were doing $8-9,000 a week. In April, we’ve just about doubled our sales. Our next goal is getting up to $35,000/week, taking us closer to breakeven. We need you to do more of your shopping with us to support our reaching this sales goal by the end of May, 2019. We will have everything you need in offerings to reach this goal. If we don’t, please let us know what you want to purchase with the Co-op ASAP so we can get those goods on Kokua’s shelves.

In order to receive the next increment of our grant, we need to generate sales of $35,000 during a one-week period. We’re asking your help with shopping during the week of May 5 through May 11. Please try to spend as many of your shopping dollars during that week. Please spread the word to your friends, family, community that we really need to up our sales volume to get that grant. This will partially be during our Celebration and there will be a number of special sale items, just for members.

Wynston, our interim manager is well versed in turnarounds, thankfully, because Kokua has been neglected for some time. Her first priorities have been focused on a variety of tasks that are invisible to the casual observer: cutting expenses, like the phone bill (which was $1000/month), dealing with the dying computer/register system, reviewing product data from your system to focus restock decisions, establishing standard operating practices for checking in orders, developing a store reset plan, and working to rebuild the membership list. Wynston[wle1]  has discovered that inventory has been valued incorrectly for some time now, and we will amend our 2018 year-end financial statements to reflect reality. She is working to reestablish relationships with the vendors we need, and expand our local offerings.

We will be holding the annual meeting in July, after the Board has had time to form a nominating committee for new board members.

Thank you for your confidence in Kokua and its future. We will, with your kokua, rebuild our co-operative into a successful, sustainable and important community resource. 

Laurie Carlson
Chair, Board of Directors
Kokua Country Foods Co-operative


Newsletter 3/4/2019

Owners Vote Yes to Keep Kokua Open

On Saturday March 2 we had an owners meeting to share updates on our fundraising and plans to save Kokua Market. Sixty-one owners filled the room and supported the ongoing efforts to keep Kokua running.

In fundraising we exceeded our shares campaign goal, and have raised $167,000 so far and have secured an additional $120,000 in member & community loans, and $10,000 in donations/grants. There may be another $70,000 grant available this week—we should know soon.

We are excited to announce that given our success and the proposed plans forward (outlined below), the owners voted unanimously to spend the money raised through our proposed plan:

Plan Forward

Phase 1: Use Equity, Get professional Interim General Manager (Wynston Estis arrives on March 11 to be our IGM for a few months) to restart store with new product mix & new operational standards. Includes plans to clean up store, improve signage, locate new suppliers, and invite new vendors to work with us. Our goal is to change our product mix, increase inventory and raise sales to $40-50,000 a week.

Phase 2: If successful with Phase 1, the Board will consider Phase 2, depending on our ability to secure additional investment capital. This phase would include getting new equipment, considering new departments, and hiring a second Interim General Manager.

How Can You Help?

  • Continue to support our fundraising by buying shares or donating to our Go Fund Me page

  • We need volunteers in the store for a face lift, so please e-mail to volunteer

  • And, as usual, come shop 10am-6pm everyday. We are stocking more and more products every week and hope to return to normal and better than ever soon! Thank you!

  • Weʻll see you at the next Owners Meeting.

Explaining the Kokua 2020 plan to Co-op members.

Explaining the Kokua 2020 plan to Co-op members.

The unanimous vote approving the plan.

The unanimous vote approving the plan.

Come on by the store today!

Kokua Market is undergoing a period of transition—BUT we are still open. Spread the word and encourage your family and friends to keep shopping, as that helps us. We are excited for the future.

Spread the word—ask your friends and family to support relaunching Kokua. You can buy your shares online at this link. You can also use our downloadable form for becoming a new member or buying additional shares by check—Kokua Fundraising Letter. Of course, you can buy more share while in the store.

For more information on Board changes and new members, please see our newsletter here. For more information on recent events, deli and chef updates, check out our current newsletter here.  Check out the Kokua 2020 flyer which shows our ideas for our new vision of Kokua.

We have two new chefs, awesome deli food as always, local eggs, local I’a poke, bulk is back, and local produce is stocked daily. We hope that through this period of change, you will continue to support us and invest in the future of your co-op!

Mahalo for your continuing kokua,
The Board of Directors