Route 99 Hawaii’s 40-foot shipping container, outfitted as a retail store, opened its rolling doors at the Kahuku Sugar Mill and is a first on Oahu. Route 99 Hawaii is kick-starting this newest trend on Oahu’s shores.
As an extension of the lean and green movements, the repurposing of shipping containers is growing rapidly on the mainland. That’s how the idea to acquire a shipping container as a store – as opposed to brick and mortar — was born.
“One of the deciding factors in looking at a shipping container for retail space had to do with overhead and cost,” said Washington. The cost of commercial space is so expensive in Hawaii in terms of locals … we thought our brand would work (in a container). Our brand mission is to share aloha worldwide.
This pay-it-forward attitude is reflected in our brand partnerships displayed in the store, with a percentage of store proceeds going to AccesSurf, which provides ocean access for anyone with a disability; Friends of Sunset Beach, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping art education alive on the North Shore of O`ahu; and Kahuku School’s Scholarship Program.
Charlie Teixeira added that the start-up cost was relatively low, as was the risk factor. “Once we saw the shelving go up with the merchandise in place and all of the local artwork on the walls, it looked pretty cool. One customer exclaimed, ‘It’s a work of art!’, another said, ‘Back home we see some container spaces like these for coffee houses, a swimming pool area… and another commented on the quality of the merchandise displayed saying, ‘You can tell when you walk in this stuff isn’t made abroad.’”
The process of outfitting this shipping container includes finding it on a Kunia Farm. Then it had to be moved to be renovated—cleaned, installing rolling doors, walls, electricity, flooring etc. Choosing the best color for the container and the honu/rainbow mural for the outside was next, as was shipping it to Kahuku, leveling the land for it, adding an ADA ramp and signage outside.
Who knew that when Route 99 Hawaii first opened at the Hale`iwa Farmers Market in 2011, with one booth and two designs that they would one day be the trendsetters at the Kahuku Sugar Mill, right next to the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck!