So your kids or cousins or aunties and uncles live on the faraway mainland, and they get ono for kalua pork, laulau and poi, or Zippy’s chili or Portuguese bean soup, and Christmas is coming. Now what?
Keith and LeeAnne Evanovich saw the need and set up shop in 2007 in Nevada, where he previously served in Longs Drugs management and met plenty of expat islanders.
Hawaiian Food Online specializes in shipping local food favorites, frozen or fresh, to expats and other Hawaii lovers on the mainland, at military APO and FPO addresses and to other international locales.
Most of their clients are on the mainland, and most are Hawaii expats, Keith Evanovich said, as one might expect.
Evanovich’s experience in the retail industry exposed him to the right contacts to get goodies favored by former Hawaii residents, and he’s worked to establish additional relationships with Zippy’s, Noh Foods and the Madden Corp., to name a few.
Also, Nevada has a huge network of expats who, as local people do, have formed ohana-style groups to stay connected.
The AlohaWorld.com website, for instance, has been an online resource and community calendar for Hawaii expats since 1998. HawaiianFoodOnline.com is one of its advertisers.
HAWAIIAN FOOD ONLINE
>> Address: P.O. Box 752691, Las Vegas, NV 89136
Beyond food and snacks, the site offers transplanted local folks gift items, kitchen utensils and Japanese-style nylon washcloths, because maybe Spam musubi makers, saimin spoons and Salux towels are hard to find in, say, Peoria.
Prices on individual items are low enough that a shopper could pick and choose, assembling a mix of merchandise to satiate the onos of faraway loved ones, but many such combo packs already are offered by Hawaiian Food Online, A-rated by the Better Business Bureau in the area.
Many customers order goodies to be sent for special occasions, "and we offer free gift cards and we hand-write the card with whatever the person wants to say, like, ‘Hey Auntie, go make rice,’" to go along with the enclosed gift, Evanovich chuckled.
The site is a potential DIY homesickness cure for those who have no one back home to send them care packages, and offers the near-instant gratification of overnight shipping of frozen local food.
Presently on special: a package of five 24- to 26-ounce packages of Zippy’s chili and five malasadas at $109.99, a price that includes shipping via FedEx.
"If I were to order from our site, I would order from the specials (menu)," he said.
All shipments of frozen food are shipped overnight for delivery Mondays through Fridays but never on Fridays for Saturdays, said Evanovich, because FedEx charges extra for Saturday deliveries. The last day to ship overnight packages in time for Christmas Day is Dec. 23, according to Hawaiian Food Online’s Facebook page.
Hawaiian Food Online items also are available via Amazon.com, he said.
One cautionary note Evanovich offers, however, is that chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and other Hawaii chocolates don’t do so well during summer shipments from 100-degree Nevada. Winter shipments work out just fine, he said.
"I never grew up in Hawaii," Evanovich said, but he grew to love island culture through former islanders like the late Angie Pauline-Maka, who moved to Vegas in the early 1990s. He hired her while he was still in retail, and preferred hiring people from Hawaii because "they work hard."
He also saw firsthand how former isle residents longed for the flavors of home.
Setting up the business "wasn’t about the money," he said. "The business does not make a lot of money," as his profit margin is under 25 percent, he said. "It was always about (wanting to hear), ‘Thanks for your service,’ ‘I really appreciate you,’" and other such affirmations from appreciative customers with happy tummies, Evanovich said.
Reach Erika Engle at 529-4303, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter as @erikaengle.