Friday, May 14, 2010

A Shot in the Arm

It seems Dan is a shot in the arm for Papayas. He was animatedly telling me about his day yesterday and how everyone seems to be responding to his creative energy. The owner, GM, staff and customers have told him that the produce section has never looked so good. In fact, they are running out of produce on the weekends. That has never happened. Jessica, the owner, was concerned because she thought Dan wasn't doing his job. After a short discussion she learned that he was doing his job so well they couldn't keep all that great produce in house! Previously, Papayas was about 40% local, Dan will be completing his 4th week today and he has brought it up to 65% to 70% local. Local spinach set out was gone in 20 minutes. The kales (3 varieties from 1), tat soi (3 varieties from 0), sweet potatoes (in 3 weeks Dan sold more than any previous 3 months combined), and 7 varieties of lettuce are also doing very well. He's brought in more variety including local fruits and flowers. Papayas had 60 varieties of produce and he has almost doubled that. He reclaimed some space that other departments were filling in so they didn't sit empty. With the additional space he is providing coconuts (with openers), longans, kombucha squash, red bananas, pineapples (he says "we weren't carrying f*ing pineapples!"), loads of herbs, local lemons, limes, and lilikoi (passion fruit). Plus, our farms produce is helping. The lettuces I brought from the farm (the very ones I am holding in yesterdays post) sold in 2 days while others that were there before our farms are still there. Our carrots and beets do very well also. He says it's all just display. Speaking of displays, Rita the grocery manager was inspired by Dan's revamping. She decided to enter a contest for some gluten free products they sell (it's gluten free month) and made a really creative display. She created a little shop on main street Hawaii. Under an awning she put fruits and flowers she borrowed from Dan's department. Phil (from Na Keiki O Ka Aina) was dressed in full Hawaiian regalia (he was on his way to work at a luau) and posed in front of the display eating some gluten free crackers. 20 year old Rory, one of Dan's employees has told me as well as Dan "you have really come in here and changed things up and it's awesome, I actually get excited about getting a case (of produce) and putting it out because it's so beautiful!" Jessica sent Dan to Ace Hardware to pick up some staples, a privilege Sam (Dan's other employee) says was only extended to Jason the frozen foods/night manager. Dan is having a great time and has found a totally different creative outlet that he would never have considered. He happily says, "Who thought you could have fun with fruit!" As I explained in a previous post, you don't have to put on a mask here. You don't have to be someone you are not in order to work with people in different ways, to be politically correct. You do have to be kind, respectful and considerate but other than that you just have to be yourself. We are having fun being ourselves and relearning what that is. Because  of that we are passionate. Our passion not only invigorates people around us but makes our hard work seem effortless.