Locally owned businesses on the Hawaiian island of Maui are facing a invasion of national chains. It began with the arrival of Eagle Home & Garden in 1996. Borders Books, Office Max, Old Navy, Kmart, and Costco soon followed. Home Depot recently broke ground.
The sprawling new shopping centers have caused many homegrown businesses to close down. But those that remain have developed an innovative way to fight back.
Last winter, 24 locally owned businesses launched the Ohana Savers loyalty card program. The cards enable customers to accumulate points on purchases and redeem the points at any of the participating businesses. Loyalty cards are available at many retailers, but most work only at one store or chain of stores. The Ohana Savers card covers a variety of businesses, ranging from a grocery store to an appliance dealer.
“We want to encourage people to shop at local stores first,” says Joeline Trenholm, owner of Valley Isle Lighting, explaining that “Ohana” means family in Hawaiian. The loyalty card program is part of an ongoing effort to increase awareness of the ways homegrown businesses enrich the community and local economy.
So far, it’s been a success. More than 20,000 people have signed-up. Card holder purchases totaled $1.3 million in July. A marketing magazine ranked Ohana Savers as the fastest growing loyalty card program in the nation.