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The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

One of Our Hidden Gems: Kailua in Hawaii

With over 340 stores (and counting!), we’ve got a lot of hidden gems out there. Get the story behind the store in this final post in this eight-store series. Read through them all, maybe your store was featured!

Read on to find out how you could win a $50 gift card to Whole Foods Market®. UPDATED: Thanks to everyone that entered. Congratulations to our randomly chosen winner, Stephanie H.!

Today we’re talking with Dabney Gough, Marketing Supervisor at the Kailua store in Hawaii.

What’s the best-kept secret at your store?

Our shave ice from the coffee and juice bar. Shave ice (no “d”, please!) is a refreshing local treat of feathery, finely shaved ice topped with flavorful and fruity syrups.

At most places, the syrups are full of artificial colors and flavors; ours is not only free of all that, but also made with Maui cane sugar and locally grown exotic fruits like jaboticaba, mountain apple and lychee. Our store is the first Whole Foods Market to offer shave ice, so you have to come to Kailua to try it!

If I walk into your store for the first time, what should I absolutely not miss?

Being in Hawaii, it sometimes feels criminal to spend any more time inside than absolutely necessary, and one of the nicest things about our store is our ample outdoor seating. Our lanais are the perfect place to meet up with friends, sip on a glass of wine, and enjoy our beautiful weather and fresh air.

Got any behind-the-curtain surprises you can share?

We have a great partnership with Aloha Harvest, a local organization that picks up food from restaurants, grocery stores, and caterers and redistributes it to those in need. We donate our still-edible leftovers to them, and older items go to a nearby pig farm. We try to avoid wasting anything!

What’s the most crave-able thing at the in-store Windward Bar?

Our team members make a mean burger, using 100% grass-fed Maui Cattle Company beef and locally baked hamburger buns.

We also have a wonderful vegan version using Maui Taro Burgers, which uses both the root and leaves of the taro plant for a flavorful and healthy burger. They get super crispy when griddled – so good you won’t miss the meat!

Whatcha got going on with local schools or non-profits?

We have a longstanding and rewarding partnership with the Kōkua Hawai‛i Foundation (founded by local musician Jack Johnson and his wife, Kim Johnson) and their ‛Āina in Schools program, which works with local schools to teach kids about gardening, food, and sustainability. We help them by volunteering at schools, making in-kind donation of ingredients for their lessons, and partnering on fundraising activities. They do amazing work and we love supporting them!

Please tell us someone’s gotten engaged in the cereal aisle. Details!

We haven’t had that yet, but we have had the pleasure of helping some pretty exciting guests. President Obama and his family spend their winter holiday in Kailua every year, and we were thrilled to have the White House Chef and his staff shop for their holiday meals with us. They never told us who they were, but we had done our homework and so we figured it out. A personal highlight for me was helping pick out some cheeses for the First Family’s Christmas dinner cheese course. When you work in the food world, it doesn’t get much better than helping to feed the President!

How does your store kick back?

Our team members have a very active interpretation of the term “leisure time.” On any given day, our team members are out hiking, surfing, paddling, snorkeling, cycling, swimming, and generally enjoying life in paradise! (And in case you were wondering…no, it never gets old.)

What else makes your store a “hidden gem”?

Being on an island in the middle of the ocean, local products are especially important and meaningful to us. Along with our sister store in Honolulu, we offer the best and widest selection of local items anywhere on the island! 40% of our fruits and vegetables are from local farms, and we have set a goal for ourselves to raise it to 50% in 2013.

Our little town of Kailua alone is home to two chocolate makers, a popsicle and syrup producer, and a soap and shampoo company, just to name a few. We have a fabulous set of local beers (including kegs), amazing Big Island macadamia nuts, Maui pickles and jams, local vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, Honolulu-made nougats and gelatos, and so much more.

We are the best place on Oahu to get the best local ingredients, support local farms, and even pick up gifts for friends on the Mainland.

Now that you know what makes our Kailua store shine in Hawaii – tell us: what makes your local store a hidden gem?

Share your comment below by Sunday, March 31 and you’ll be entered to win a $50 Whole Foods Market gift card. Enter once on each “hidden gems” blog post, running from March 20 – March 29, for more chances to win.

The fine print: No purchase necessary. Promotion ends 3/31/13, 11:59 PM CDT. Must be a legal resident of the US or Canada (except in Quebec, where it is void) age 18 or older to participate. Taxes on prize, if applicable, are the responsibility of the winner. Employees of Whole Foods Market, Inc., are not eligible. Void where prohibited.