[excerpt from the Honolulu Advertiser,
Wednesday March 9, 2005]
Web sites key tool for businesses
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
Patrick Ching knew Waimanalo wasn't the busiest retail or tourist spot on
But he loved the country feel to the sleepy town and decided to open his
Patrick Ching, owner of Naturally Hawaiian Gallery & Gifts in
Waimanalo, says his Web site has "become a significant part of my
Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser
Nine years later, Naturally Hawaiian Gallery & Gifts, which sits on the
site of a former gas station, has lured a steady flow of loyal customers,
even the wayward tourist, searching for unique, locally made gifts and
But it wasn't until he launched his Web site six years ago — then updated
it a few months ago — that his customer base began to grow. Exponentially.
"I didn't do it primarily to see how much money I could make from it,"
said Ching, 42, who also moonlights as a rodeo clown. "But it's become a
significant part of my business."
He has received orders for his artwork and books from all around the
world. Recently, he sold a large painting of a horse for $1,200 to a man in
Texas who wanted to build his house around it.
"That was a good sale," Ching said with a smile.
Businesses, no matter how small, can benefit from having some sort of
Web presence, experts say. Not only is it a way for companies to
advertise their products and services, it's also become an expectation of
consumers who often turn to the Internet to research their options.
"In today's competitive marketplace, it's a way of communicating to
customers that can't be ignored," said Dana Alden, a marketing professor at
the University of Hawai'i-Manoa. "Just about every business should have a
Web presence, for no other reason but to provide information to the
person looking online and let them know they're there. It's become an
expectation. People are actually surprised when they don't find a Web site."