KAILUA-KONA — Moseying among the booths and tables at the 13th annual Hawaii Island Living + Design Show, those who call Hawaii Island home browsed for inspiration while local business owners connected with potential new clients.
For those who missed the event’s first day, it continues today from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. The event is presented by the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by West Hawaii Today, among others.
“These are the local companies, because this is the way to connect to the community,” said Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce executive director Wendy Laros.
The event features more than 40 vendors across the home construction and home design industry, offering something for everyone, from the first-time homebuilder to the long-time resident looking to renovate their countertops or floors.
Leland and Gail Sung, for example, were at the expo as part of their plan to do some remodeling at their home after building it 35 years ago in Waimea.
“In that time, everything has changed,” said Gail Sung.
They came out to the show, they said, for the first time to get an idea about the latest trends in everything from roofing and countertops to the windows and tinting.
And overall, the couple said, it was a success.
“I think we learned some new things,” Leland Sung said.
“There are just terrific personnel on the floor, that’s for sure,” Gail Sung said.
Laros said in her view this year’s show is “bigger and better than ever.”
That’s evidenced, she said, by the great turnout from vendors and attendees.
“Hopefully, (attendees) will see the things that they like, and then they’ll go ahead and work with the vendors that are here,” she said.
The vendors are, by and large, local businesses, she said.
“This is the time people have face-to-face time,” Laros said. “And it’s all one place, all kinds of different types of services.”
The big turnout, she added, is a good sign the economy’s getting stronger.
And the day’s vendors also agreed that it was a great opportunity for business owners to meet potential customers.
“We’ve just seen great response every year,” said Mary Davis-Owen, who owns All Natural Stone Fabrication with her husband.
This is their third year at the show, she said, saying it’s a great place to see people that are seriously looking at building or remodeling.
“Throughout the whole year, a lot of folks will say ‘Hey, I saw you at the show,’” she said. “Even this show, they’re like, ‘Oh I remember you from last show.’ So it’s definitely brand recognition.”
Vendors also said it’s a great opportunity to meet not just potential customers, but others in the industry.
“It’s an opportunity to meet a lot of people in one spot,” said Mitch Tam of Sunrun. “In addition to that, it’s a good opportunity to learn what’s going on in the home construction/design fields.”
Tam said he himself took the opportunity to walk around and meet other vendors, because down the road, clients will be asking for recommendations for other aspects of home construction and design.
“So the fact that we’re able to meet other people in the trade industry, it allows us to be able to recommend someone,” he said.