Shopping is better the old-fashioned way
More columns
written by Fern:
Fern Gavelek
Spending less to enjoy more
Photos - The Real Deal
Our new puppy
Being an Ironman
Fun Christmas song boasts historic, linguistic importance
St. Nick's secret gifts
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail Fern at
Volcano! A drama worth watching
Kona Snow and the promise it brings
When the phone rang yesterday, a pre-recorded duet of voices informed me of something I already knew: the doctor had called in my prescription refill. “This is unnecessary and a waste of time,” I thought. A few hours earlier, I had also been notified via email of that same information. This was after my doctor’s office called and said the order had been called in. 
      I endured a similar procedure the next day, when the medicine was shipped…first, an email arrived, followed by a recorded phone message. In addition, I was encouraged to visit a website and view my order online, using a password. Shaking my head, I realized all the hubbub was how my new Mail Order Prescription Drug Program did business.
     The same annoying communication overload happens when I order merchandise from the catalog. L.L. Bean sends me my invoice both via email and snail mail. In fact, I get an emailed statement even if I have a zero balance. I called LL Bean’s credit card services and asked not to be bothered with statements that don’t matter and was told, “Sorry, we have to send a statement even if there’s nothing on it.” 
      I used to think spending money was easy. Perhaps technology is making shopping too complicated and overly cumbersome.
     One of the most pleasant shopping experiences I regularly have is right down the street at the K. Komo Store. The 1920 landmark sits on the two-lane Mamalahoa Highway above Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. The bustling, mountain road snakes through the scenic Kona Coffee Belt. 
     Yes, the Komo family grows their own coffee and that’s the only kind we buy. It doesn’t come in a fancy bag, but the Komos work hard growing it and you can’t beat the fresh aroma and flavor—or the price. Komo Store always runs low on freshly roasted coffee before the Christmas holidays so now I order several pounds before Thanksgiving. It’s conveniently waiting for me when I need it. 
     While coffee is the main item we purchase there, the tiny Komo Store also stocks canned goods, produce, sundries, ice-cold soda, milk and beer. I buy gas there for our car—pumped by Mr. Ken Komo or his wife, Mutsumi. They come outside after I drive over the line that rings the bell.
     The mature couple expertly takes turns “manning” the store where Mr. Komo was born. They are caring and neighborly with customers, doing transactions quickly using a standard cash register and a gleaming white merchandise scale that displays magnified numbers. 
     While customers can conveniently come and go quickly, anyone who wants to tarry can do so on the bench outside. Kids use it to wait for the school bus so Mr. Komo opens his doors each morning after they are gone. “Otherwise, they spend all their lunch money on candy,” he explains.
     Once I forgot my wallet and Mr. Komo came to the rescue, simply adding my name and the amount owed to a list on the wall. Sometimes, when extra bananas or papayas have been picked, Mrs. Komo offers me some of the bounty, putting them in a simple brown bag, while patting me on the back. 
      I can’t remember the Komos ever calling me on the phone or sending me an email. They accept cash, checks and credit cards. Receipts from their transactions are short and sweet—just like them.
The Spectator
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers
founded 2004 by ron cruger