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Raising prices helped this greens farmer stay afloat

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Scott Snair purchased his Hawaii produce business in late 2019, shortly before travel dropped off and his restaurant clients stopped buying. Courtesy Scott Snair

Scott Snair runs Rainbow Island Produce, a hydroponic greens farm in Hilo, Hawaii.

I purchased the business in the last quarter of 2019. All the customers, really, were the local restaurants. It was a lot of wholesale accounts. So I had only a full quarter before we started to see a reduction in travel.

Man, there was a fall off a cliff I can’t even put into numbers, or at least I don’t like to look at those numbers. There were a couple times where it really seemed like things were coming back. The sales might rebound a little bit and I’d plant a bunch more, and then the next week they would fall off but I’ve already got my farm planted out.

Even before I owned it, I knew that the product was undervalued. I ended up deciding to raise prices, and that just coincidentally came about a month before we started locking things down. The initial benefit was it allowed me to hire an employee. That was huge as far as it helped eliminate some little errors [like] being behind schedule and stuff. You know, if I hadn’t raised prices, I would not have been able to support the employee or probably even myself.

It’s so hard to tell if we’re just in another boom that’s gonna bust. You know, it does feel like this most recent recovery is a little more promising. So I guess all I can do is hope for continued progress towards a more consistent and improving financial outlook for Hawaii island.

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