Hawai‘i Island Surprises

Hawai‘i Island Surprises

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If you’re keeping count, this Big Island edition is the Herald’s third. It feels good to see it grow each year.

Last month, advertising manager Grant Murata spent three days in Hilo. I wish that he could have also visited West Hawai‘i to meet with prospective advertisers there, but time and a shoestring budget prevented that.

Operating on a shoestring budget is usually frustrating. What you should be able to accomplish in five minutes oftentimes takes an hour when you don’t have the bucks.

But once in a great while, a shoestring budget can net some feel-good surprises. Take, for example, my efforts to book a hotel and car for Grant. I looked at several websites for Hilo hotels, hoping to find reasonably priced lodging that was safe and clean. I called a toll-free number and got a call center. The woman obviously did not know Hawai‘i. She said she could book a room at the Hi-lo (as in high-low) Seaside and could give me a discount that was a whole penny less than the posted price. She kept asking me whether I was ready to book at that hugely discounted price, and I kept saying “no” — until I finally said, “No, thank you. Good-bye,” and hung up. I ended up booking Grant a room at the Naniloa at a less expensive kama‘äina rate after talking with a sales representative in Hilo who had no problem pronouncing “Hilo.” Local mo’ bettah.

From the cover photo of this issue, you know that we have a story on Hawaiian musician Mark Yamanaka. Contributing writer Margaret Shiba and I decided that I should call Mark and let him know that Margaret would be calling him for an interview. From my research on him, I learned that he worked at Aiona Car Sales in Hilo, so I Googled Aiona Car Sales and clicked on the link. The company’s site opened up, so I called the number on my screen. That’s when I noticed a menu option labeled “Rentals.” I hadn’t booked Grant’s car yet, thinking I’d find him something from Budget or Alamo or one of those. When the recording came on listing the various options, on the spur of the moment I pressed the extension for rentals. The pleasant voice of Carmen in Hilo came on the line. She told me Aiona’s rates, which were reasonable. And, because their inventory of compact cars would be low the day Grant arrived, she offered to upgrade his car to a mid-size and yet give us the compact price. What a deal. Local mo’ bettah #2.

It felt good to be speaking directly with local people who actually cared about representing their company well. And, it felt good to be supporting local businesses. The moral of this story is that once in a great while, even a shoestring budget can lead you to great things and make your day.

Finally, if you’ve been a Herald subscriber for the last few years, you might recall my lament two years ago about NPR’s decision to cancel one of its most popular programs, “Talk of the Nation,” hosted by veteran journalist Neil Conan. The show aired locally on HPR. Even after two years, I still miss the quality of journalism that Neil Conan brought to the program. After his departure from NPR, I often wondered what he was doing with his life.

So imagine my joy when, on HPR’s spring pledge drive, I heard the unmistakable voice of Neil Conan from the HPR studios on Kaheka Street. Neil had left DC’s snowy winters behind in favor of Hawai‘i’s year-round tropical climate. He had embarked on a new career as an organic macadamia nut farmer in, off all places, Häwï, on Hawai‘i island. He was getting to know local people and local ways. I still miss “Talk of the Nation,” but I can once again hear Neil’s voice loud and clear with his reports on HPR. And, best of all, we’re now all 808s.

Mahalo nui loa to our advertisers for supporting this issue, and especially to KTA Super Stores for continuing to carry the Herald in its stores island-wide. Please tell our advertisers that you saw their ad in the Herald and then support their businesses.

 

Alumside Products, Inc.
Amano Fishcake, Inc.
Big Island Candies
Big Island Delights
Café 100
Country Samurai Coffee Company
Dodo Life Plan
Dodo Mortuary, Inc. & Crematory
Don’s Grill
Dragon Mama
Green Point Nurseries
Hawaii Printing Corporation
Hilo Termite & Pest Control, Ltd.
Kadota Liquor/K’s Drive In
Kama‘aina Motors
Kimura Lauhala Shop
KTA Super Stores
Lehua Physical Therapy & Rehab
Roy Kodani/”The Sound of Hilo Rain”
S. Tokunaga Store
Suisan
Tanimoto Dharma Designs
Tours by Charlie
Two Ladies Kitchen
Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home

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