In a time when businesses like Toys R Us and Kmart are closing, one type of store is actually growing in Hawaii. 

Natural food grocery stores like Down to Earth and Whole Foods are opening new locations in Kakaako. Both businesses have job fairs this week.

Many agree that more jobs are great, but these stores are also the sign of the times, meaning consumers like the option of having healthier choices.   

Kakaako was once known as having a lot of industrial warehouses, but today it has become a trendy scene on Oahu.

“There’s lots of restaurants, places to eat, cool little shops, but there’s not really any grocery stores,” said Down to Earth store manager Steven Hutchison.  

That’s one of the reasons why Down to Earth decided to open up shop in Kakaako, their largest location yet.

The local grocery store held a job fair Sunday to recruit about 50 people.

“It’s close by and I wanted to find a different job from my old one,” said applicant Daniel Lin.  

“I really like the environment. I like the other stores. They are very family-friendly,” said Manalo-Canoy.  

This is Down to Earth’s sixth location in the state. Store officials tell us they’re growing because the demand for organic, natural foods have increased over the years.

“Our stores are growing to fit the need because, especially with our delis, we need more space to do the stuff customers want us to do,” said Hutchison.  

Lorraine Sakaguchi of the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii says people have been more aware about the foods they eat and how that plays into the environment. 

“Now they have the ability to get on the Internet and see the information for themselves. Also social media plays a lot into this as well,” said Sakaguchi.

That’s part of the reason why, Sakaguchi says, the market for health food stores and restaurants will only continue to grow in Hawaii.

“It’s very exciting to see. Ten years ago, we had virtually no vegan restaurants here in Honolulu and now we have, not only in Honolulu, but we got them in Kailua, North Shore, and everywhere,” she said. 

Less than a mile away, Whole Foods also plans to have a job fair this week and open its doors in May.

Down to Earth says the competition is welcome.

“Whole Foods themselves have done so much to really make healthy natural living mainstream, so Down to Earth has grown as a result of it,” Hutchison said. 

Whole Foods will be hosting a three-day job fair at the Neal Blaisdell Center starting this Tuesday. They’re looking to fill about 300 positions.

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