Signed, sealed, delivered
WAIKOLOA VILLAGE — Bob Haber of Waikoloa Mailbox wears a lot of hats.
For the last 10 years, a typical day has found him playing the role of notary public, packer, shipper, mailman, Western Union rep, key maker, fax sender, blueprint printer, photographer and propane supplier.
In the evening, he might don his costume hat for a rehearsal with one of the local community theatres.
Originally from Los Angeles, Haber first came to Hawaii Island in 1986, after vacationing here with friends several times. An independent sales representative for building materials companies, he wanted a slower lifestyle and rented a house in Waimea for several years before moving to Waikoloa in 1990.
Haber stayed in the building materials business for a while assisting local contractors obtain supplies through his contacts in California. That turned into a full time job, which turned into a partnership and a new business. About the same time, he discovered a new passion for the theatre.
“I had never acted before,” said Haber, who was encouraged by the director to audition for a play at Aloha Theatre. “I said no, and she dared me. So, I played the character, Harding, in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ I wanted to be onstage from that moment on.”
In 1996, he went back to L.A. to pursue acting. He got professional head shots, starting looking for an agent, read the trade papers, and auditioned for TV, stage, film and commercial roles. He already had his Screen Actors Guild card from being in “Waterworld,” the Kevin Costner movie filmed on Hawaii Island in 1995. After a 10-year run, he decided to come back to Hawaii and start his own business.
“Before coming back, I studied different types of business that I would like to do, and franchises,” said Haber. “At that time, postal stores were high up on the list, near the top. There wasn’t anything in Waikoloa, and only one small one in Waimea. Everything else was in Kona.”
After investigating Highlands Center in Waikoloa, he looked into the new Parker Ranch Center in Waimea, which had just opened. He found a space, and was planning to open a store there when the Waikoloa property called him back and offered to help build out a store that had never been used.
“I had to start from scratch,” said Haber, who hired a company to help complete the new Waikoloa Mailbox, which opened in October 2006. “It took a little time to get noticed but as time went on the residents were very excited to have the store there. The village was growing and I wanted to grow with it.”
After a couple of growth years, the economy took a turn.
“In 2008, when everything crashed, it was a struggle,” said Haber. “A lot of people were leaving, and not many people were arriving. I struggled for three years to keep the store open. Then, in 2011, the population started to grow again; people were going back to work; the economy in general was growing. By 2012 business was on the rise.”
An optimistic entrepreneur, Haber plans to be around for another decade, serving the Waikoloa community as it grows.
As to advice for others looking to start a business, he says, “They need to be community oriented. Without these people, you don’t have a business.”
Haber mans his store from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, providing mailbox rentals, packing and domestic/international mailing services from UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS. Postage stamps, boxes and packing materials, and a variety of office supplies, services, and a selection of locally made gifts and cards are also available.