Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Community support vital for Kaimuki business owners

Michelle Nguyen
A fully stocked retailer filled with reusable and/or recycled goods, alongside local artists’ work at Keep it Simple Kaimuki.

Kaimuki is known for its unique local businesses that draw loyal customers, but for some owners, making the dream happen takes a lot of work.

“We get to meet a lot of people from the community, and they love our store as well, so I think I feel like it’s a great way to bond with the Kaimuki, Hawaii community, as well as being able to do something, good for the environment at least a little bit, you know,” said Katie Joo, an employee at Keep it Simple Kaimuki.

The zero waste store is not just a place to refill your shampoo and laundry detergent. It’s become a community pillar that highlights local artistry. The store features paintings, clothing, and decor for sale, produced by local artists who also believe in the retailer’s vision.

Relationships can be built and fostered by shopping here, where “[you] get a face to put with, the things that you’re buying and maybe not just the face, but maybe a story,” Joo said.

While Keep it Simple Kaimuki has been able to build a strong community among its shoppers,, which does clothing alterations, has a tougher time connecting with customers.

“I’m just comfortable,” says Woomi Newberry, owner and seamstress at

The seamstress of over 20 years doesn’t feel she has community support, at least not from the world of sewing, where options for supplies on the island are limited. It is convenient for Newberry to run her business in Kaimuki however, having opened it through the help of a friend and a building owner, who charges her a low rent.

Newberry says she’s slowly building a clientele list, cultivating more relationships through her clients and maintaining a dream she made for herself, “[and] finally, after 15 years, finally I got this shop,” Newberry said.

Though the level of community support varies among the shops in Kaimuki, most business owners say they find value in being in the neighborhood.

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