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New Business in Kualapu`u

New Molokai business owner Desirae Cabalar said opening a business was always on her bucket list. That aspiration took shape earlier this month, when she launched Desi’s Island Gifts in the Kualapu`u Center. The shop, which she said is still a work in progress developing inventory, features island-inspired clothing, gifts and souvenirs.

“I always wanted to get into business but didn’t have the resources or space,” said Cabalar, who has worked as a full time preschool teacher the last four years.

That changed when she was approached one day with a business opportunity while she was working her part time job as a coffee barista. Jim Gartland, who owns Kualapu`u Center with his wife Carol, suggested she open a business in their recently-vacated space.

Cabalar said after discussing the opportunity with her fiance, she jumped at the chance to kick-start her dream, even though she admitted she will miss her work as a teacher.

“I was thinking it was time for a change,” she said, “but I didn’t think it would come this soon!”

The gift shop space, previously occupied by Denise Taueetia’s store which she recently relocated into Kaunakakai, adjoins the Gartlands’ business, Molokai Furniture. Cabalar now works as a sales partner for Molokai Furniture along with running her own shop.

Cabalar said starting the business with no initial funding to invest in inventory has been challenging, but with the help of the Gartlands, she is slowing building her stock of merchandise.

“I really want to feature Molokai-made products so if you’re a local artist, give me a call!” she said.

Carol Gartland said Molokai Furniture has been open for 13 years and she and her husband have supported many local business people over the years getting their start.

“We’re here to guide and help where we can,” she said. “We’re wanting more businesses on Molokai, but it’s hard work — you have to be very involved [as a business owner].”

She said they’re excited to have Cabalar on board.

“She’s gifted with a lot of business knowledge,” added Carol.

Though this is Cabalar’s first storefront, she said she’s taken a number of business classes and has been enjoying putting what she’s learned into practice.

While Cabalar is currently working to increase her stock, she is planning a grand opening for sometime this summer.

Desi’s Island Gifts is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 567-6083.

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