Local businesses getting boost from farmers markets to keep them afloat during COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The pandemic hit many businesses hard, leading to the closures of brick-and-mortar stores and food trucks. Some businesses have been turning to local farmers markets to bounce back.

“As long as you make that connection with somebody and have a free flow of people coming through here, it definitely helps your business,” said Aaron Biolos, WeirDoughs owner.

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Biolos said through selling at the market, he’s gotten a new opportunity for work.

“Because of COVID, I got laid off at my job because it got closed down, and so I’d always been making bread, so I started making focaccia per my wife’s request and it kind of just caught fire,” said Biolos.

Biolos started out selling his breads to a vendor before he eventually got his own booth. He said doing this has been a cheaper option for starting his business.

“It gives small business owner a place to showcase their wares for a minimal renting space,” said Biolos.

Aaron Biolos, WeirDoughs Owner

Biolos isn’t the only one taking advantage of this. Tides Coffee, which opened in October, is selling at the market to save up to open their own shop.

“It’s harder for any new business to get in line with that ‘get a loan, get a shop’,” said Kimberly Natavio, Tides Coffee co-owner. “Five months in, we’re kind of surprised how supportive the community has been at the farmers market.”

Businesses say foot-traffic is even picking up, and word of mouth is helping them gain traction.

“It definitely helps because even if somebody doesn’t buy something from you, just the foot traffic and seeing the signs and interacting with somebody… They may not buy something from you that day but it kind of gets into their mind they’re like okay next time I come,” aid Biolos.

The exposure at the market is also helping some boost business at their brick-and-mortar locations.

“They like to ask, ‘Do you have a location or storefront?’ We’re like, ‘Yeah, we have one in Chinatown.’ They check it out in Chinatown. They’re like, ‘Wow,'” said Lareina Bucsit, Olay’s Thai Food server.

As for residents, they say they are happy to help out.

“I think it’s really great that we’re still able to help these businesses, and it’s a win-win. We get good products and we help out,” said Christyn Senda, a farmers market customer.

Upcoming farmers markets include KCC from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, and Mililani between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Click here to find out more about these markets.

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