WAIMEA — It was a welcoming community that enticed the owners of Mary Jane’s store at the Kings’ Shops to open a second store in Waimea.
To date, that decision has proven to be a good one.
“I feel like the community has opened their arms to us and made us feel like we made the right decision,” co-owner Mary Smithson said. “We couldn’t be happier to be here, and feel blessed and grateful for the warm reception we’ve received.”
Mary and her husband, Steve, opened Mary Jane’s at the Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa Resort six years ago. They opened the Waimea location May 1 at Parker Ranch Center in a large space formerly occupied by Wishard Gallery next door to the food court.
A grand opening for the Waimea store, with giveaways and special promotions, is planned for late June.
Mary Jane’s bills itself as “a girl’s best friend” and when visiting the store in person one sees why. The merchandise is one-third gifts, one-third jewelry and one-third clothing.
“Our goal is to appeal to as many women and girls as possible,” Mary said. “Maybe it’s jewelry, maybe it’s clothing or maybe it’s gifts. Whatever someone is looking for, we feel we have something in the store that will interest them.”
The store’s inventory also pays homage to Hawaii’s ocean location.
“We love that we have feature works that definitely showcase shells and sands,” Mary said, and even products that aren’t locally made have a tropical or nautical appeal.
Well-known national brands include Kendra Scott, who Mary said is “one of the hottest up-and-coming designers in the US”; Alex & Ani, one of the biggest jewelry lines in the U.S.; and authentic Larimar jewelry sold under the Marah Lago brand. Larimar is a rare mineral variety that shines with vibrant blues, turquoise, teals and whites. It’s mined from the heart of a volcano in the Dominican Republic.
As a couple, the Smithsons bring expert knowledge of national brands. Prior to owning their own stores, each worked as a manufacturer’s representative for many years which gave them extensive experience in product and brand selection and sales and marketing. They have successfully parlayed that experience into selecting quality brands they know will last for many years and their customers will enjoy.
In addition to national brands, Mary Jane’s represents local artists. The store’s featured artist is Megan Goodwin from the Puako area. Goodwin works with silver and gold-fill and makes necklaces, bangle bracelets and other pieces featuring sea glass and shells.
“She makes some amazing pieces and is one of my favorite artists,” Mary said. “We feel fortunate to represent her.”
The store also sells jewelry by local artisan Katie North from Oahu and the Waimea features creations by Hawi artist Heidi Bove-Paine, a metalsmith who works with copper and sterling silver.
Mary Jane’s carries a variety of lightweight, perfect-for-Hawaii tops, dresses and jeggings; unique and creative gifts for four-legged furry friends; and new Alex & Ani jewelry including the brand’s limited edition initials collection. There’s also clothing and jewelry for babies and little girls, and gifts everyone can use such as oven mitts, chip clips, prayer boxes and trinket dishes from the Natural Life brand.
In staffing their Waimea store, the Smithsons were not affected by the worker shortage on Hawaii Island and were even able to rehire an employee who had worked for them at the Kings’ Shops.
“She had to leave us because she lives in Waimea and has kids in school so the travel became too much,” Mary said.
But when they announced plans to open a Mary Jane’s in Waimea, she reapplied and the Smithsons were thrilled to get her back.
“I think our ability to get and keep good employees is due in part to our company philosophy to respect and treat our employees well,” Mary said.
When deciding where they wanted their second store to be, the couple researched and considered a number of different areas, including Kona. But in the back of their minds they always knew it would be Waimea.
“We’ve lived in Hawaii for about 6 1/2 years and the longer we’re here, the more a part of the community we’ve become. We want to be where the people are, where our friends are and where our community is,” Mary said.
In affirmation, she recalls the support she received even before opening their second store. When prepping the new space, painting and installing cabinets custom-built by her husband, Mary said she couldn’t believe how many people walked by that she knew.
“I would see them and shout out, ‘Hey! We’re in here, working on the store. This is where our new store is going to be,’ and they were so supportive,” she said.
That’s not to say she doesn’t appreciate her store at the Kings’ Shops, which fortunately for businesses like hers is frequented by tourists visiting the island. But Waimea is special.
“In Waimea, I see someone I know every day,” Mary said.
And to date, the community has supported Mary Jane’s in Waimea not just with their words but also with their pockets.
“They’re buying things and that makes us feel good that we have selected the right products for what our customers want and need,” she said. “It’s been great to see.”
Mary Jane’s Waimea store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Store promotions can be found on Facebook.