Island Grocery Service stocks the kitchen for Hawaii visitors. // © 2011 Aston Hotels and Resorts
Everyone has to eat when they come to Hawaii. That's a given.
So, for Mike Eberle, it made perfect sense to start a business that buys and delivers groceries to visitors who are staying in accommodations with kitchens. In November 2009, he launched Island Grocery Service with business partner Maria Lara and, one year later, their enterprise has done very well indeed.
Island Grocery has grown from working with one client, Aston Hotels & Resorts, to serving just about all the major vacation rental and condominium properties in Waikiki. Each month, the company adds more accommodations, and it now has affiliates on the islands of Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.
Providing what Eberle called "value-added services," Island Grocery Service appeals to the many travelers who don't want to waste valuable vacation time shopping for food. Before they arrive in Hawaii, clients visit its website and select what they want in the kitchen while they are in the islands. As they click on each item, it goes into their shopping cart, and a running total is available for them to preview. The companyís minimum purchase amount of $60 includes the delivery charge.
The website lists more than 1,400 items with the exception of cigarettes, alcohol or perishable products. Along with the expected categories -- beverages, dairy, pastas, breads, soups and frozen foods -- it also offers more specific products such as baby food, baking supplies, condiments, pharmacy needs and protein shakes. There's even an Asian food section with specialties such as ramen noodles, kimchee, soy sauce, tofu and wasabi.
After the items are totaled, guests fill out a form with information like their date and time of arrival in Hawaii, airline flight number and hotel, then use a credit card for payment. When they walk into their Hawaii lodgings, their kitchen has been stocked with the items they requested.
Along with taking care of the shopping, Island Grocery assembles and delivers gift baskets of different sizes; eight-inch, double-layer cakes for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries; and personalized fortune cookies in a variety of colors, flavors and messages.
While Island Grocery continues to work with Aston, it now also does business with Aqua Hotels & Resorts, Captain Cook Resorts, Castle Resorts and Hotels, Diamond Head Beach Hotel, Distinctive Homes Hawaii, EWA Hotel Waikiki, Hawaii Paradise Retreats, Hawaii Student Housing and Suites, Hilton Grand Vacations, Hot Homes in Hawaii, Ilikai Hotel and Suites, Ilima Hotel, Imperial Hawaii Resort in Waikiki, Island Colony Hotel, Koko Resorts, Marina Hawaii Vacations, Ohana Beach Rentals Hawaii, Waikiki Gateway and Wyndham at Waikiki. As of press time, Island Grocery Service was negotiating with several other properties on Oahu.
On its website, clients looking for grocery delivery service on Maui, Kauai and Hawaii's Big Island are directed to an island-specific link. The bottom line, according to Eberle, is to keep the visitor experience hassle-free.
"We started our business as a way to fulfill a need," Eberle said. "As our branded message says, 'You're here to enjoy the shore while we are at the store for you.'"