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Waimea and Honokaa residents have long known Kari Waldhaus in her past roles as president of the Rotary Club of North Hawaii and owner of The Entrepreneur’s Source, a business and franchise coaching company. But on July 28, following the advice she’s given to many others, she opened her own business: The UPS Store at Parker Ranch Center in Waimea.
An entrepreneur coach for more than seven years, she often helped guide others towards self-sufficiency, alternate career options and ways to improve sales, efficiency and profits. After hosting a franchise seminar in Kona last year, she had a new idea.
“I was not actively looking for another business as I already had my franchise coaching business,” Waldhaus said. “But my husband and I had talked about someday having a business where we could be more semi-absentee as well got closer to retirement.”
Shortly after the event, she was contacted by a seminar attendee who was The UPS Store area developer for the state of Hawaii. He mentioned that Waimea was one location he felt was ready for a store and hoped she might be able to help him find an interested franchise owner.
“I was quite skeptical at first but he had some compelling data,” she said. “I came home one afternoon and said to my husband, ‘Maybe we should do this ourselves.’ The long range goals fit into our plans.”
Soon after, they began talking about the project in earnest and in October started the paperwork to make it a reality. There were some obstacles to overcome along the way.
“Our biggest challenge was the building permit process,” she said. “The wait time and some of the changes requested after eight weeks of the County having our plans set us back quite a bit. But it’s been more of an adventure than a challenge.”
She also learned that being part of a bigger company has definite advantages.
“The UPS Store started a Main Street program last April to expand into more rural markets such as Waimea,” Waldhaus said. “It offers discounts and other benefits for the rural store owner, including training. They also help with lease negotiations, architectural drawings and all the furniture and fixtures are provided. The support and help was amazing, I could not have pulled this off on my own.”
Another great selling point for The UPS Store as a franchise is the branding, the national advertising exposure and a proven track record of success, she adds.
“You don’t have the pitfalls of trying to figure out what works since someone has already done that for you,” she said. But service is her number one goal.
“We strive to bring what The UPS Store calls ‘world-class customer service.’ It is not just about sales or what people can do for us, it is what we can do for them, making their lives easier. Our goal is to always say ‘Yes’ and then find a way to make it happen,” she said.
The UPS Store in Waimea caters primarily to small business owners as a “one-stop shop” with a variety of products and services. Options range from printing everything from flyers to business cards, calendars and signs, to notary, passport ID and photos, mailbox, packing and shipping services. Waldhaus say the community has been a huge support.
“All my staff were referred to me by people in the community,” she said. “People have stopped by just to thank us for being here. Knowing people appreciate what we do brings me the greatest satisfaction.”
For anyone considering opening their own business or franchise in North Hawaii, Waldhaus advises, “Do your homework. Aside from due diligence on demographics, population, competition, etc., the most important thing is for your business to support your personal and lifestyle goals, and not change your lifestyle to match the business.”
The UPS Store in Waimea is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, and closed on Sunday. They are located in the Parker Ranch Center at 67-1185 Mamalahoa Hwy., STE D-104, in Waimea. For more information, call 887-0340, or visit their website at kamuela-hi-6503.theupsstorelocal.com.