Branching Out

Island Snow adds a new location.

Island Snow is expanding to Kailua Town with the opening of a new store at Kailua Shopping Center, in the space formerly occupied by long-time Kailua boutique Mary Z’s, which closed in December after owner Terrie Farmakis announced her retirement.

Expected to open in late March, the new store occupies approximately 2,000 square feet, and will feature about a 50-50 mix of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.

“We’re going to put a lot more concentration into the women’s side, which is something we haven’t done so much in the past,” notes Brockton Kodama, director of operations.

“We’ve always been a men’s-oriented store, but we’re going to put a lot more effort and space into women’s clothing and accessories.

“It’s going to have more of a boutique feel. We’ll have some of the Island Snow merchandise, and the shave ice will be there as well.”

Among the brands you’ll find are Gypsy05, Wild Fox, Yireh, Obey, Stussy, Reyn Spooner, Volcom, HiLife, Ki•ele and Vissla.

James Kodama, a Kailua High graduate who grew up in Kailua and loved the beach, established Island Snow in 1979. The first store was located at International Marketplace in Waikiki, and the company quickly grew to 20-plus stores, including Kailua, Hawaii Kai, Ala Moana Center, Pearl City and Mililani, as well as in California, Arizona, Nevada, British Columbia and Australia.

Then, about five years ago, James was ready to retire and started to close all of the stores except for Kailua, since there were still a couple years leſton its lease. That’s when his oldest son Brockton decided to carry on the family business.

“I was in my last year at University of Denver studying accounting, and decided I didn’t want to do accounting anymore,” Brockton explains. “So, I told my dad I was going to come back (after graduating in 2010) and wanted to do the business. He was excited but a little worried, because he was on a closing mode, not so much a growth mode.

“But, in the end, I feel like it really helped me not going into the business while it was so big. I came in when it was only a small, 700-square-foot store, no website or anything. So, I got to really jump into it and start up all these aspects that I wanted to do.”

Under Brockton’s leadership, Island Snow is once again thriving. The Kailua Beach Center store, which opened in 1985, has doubled in size, and Nordstrom Ala Moana is carrying some Island Snow T-shirts and hats. There also are those yearly visits by President Barack Obama and family, stopping in for shave ice during their annual Christmas vacations over the last seven years.

For the past four years, the store also has organized an annual event with live music, food trucks and skate ramps provided by Stussy, to raise funds for charity. The fi rst few years, it was a Summer Block Party that benefited Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation, and proceeds from last year’s Winter Youth Fest went to Shane Victorino Foundation.

“He [Shane Victorino] likes to come to our store when he comes to O‘ahu,” Brockton shares.

Brockton adds that his mom, Lisa, also is very much involved in the business, helping with a variety of tasks, including buying, manufacturing and managing. So is his younger brother Adam, who helps during the summer when he’s home from USC. James is semiretired and still serves as president/CEO.

“We’re just really happy that we can sti ll live, work, play and provide some jobs in Kailua,” Brockton says. “Going forward, we just want to really concentrate on our roots. We’ve always strived to be ahead of the trends, and we’ve always had a concentration on customer service. We never want to lose that customer service of a small business, the feel of a mom-and-pop shop. We want customers to come in and have an enjoyable ti me shopping.”