KoAloha and feeling like ohana

wickedwahine11

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Have you ever had someone do the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you, and you feel undeserving of it? As many people know, I sold my beloved KoAloha, Kanilea and Kamaka ukuleles to pay for my Moore Bettah ukulele.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the KoAloha factory interviewing Pops for my upcoming book about KoAloha, and he happened to have a tenor on his desk. I asked if I could play it for a minute or two and he said, "Sure but why? You have a KoAloha." I actually was ashamed to tell him that I had sold it. And not to pay rent, or something noble or necessary, but to buy another ukulele.

He promptly left his office and came back with a tenor ukulele that he presented to me. He told me, "I can't pay you for writing this book about us, but I can give you this." I always name my ukuleles, so I named this one "Makana" - or gift. This is not the first time Pops has shown tremendous warmth and aloha to me, as anyone that remembers my crown bridge tenor and Pineapple Sunday can attest.

I felt so unworthy of such a generous and beautiful gift. I was practically in tears and felt ashamed that I had sold my old one, even if I needed to do so to finance another instrument that I love as well. It felt like a betrayal of KoAloha in that moment but Pops insisted. It actually was kind of funny because I kept insisting no, I couldn't, and Pops said if I didn't take it, it would hurt his feelings, and Alan (his son and KoAloha President) piped up, "This is not usually the reaction we get when we give someone an ukulele."

I only hope they understood my reluctance was out of my feelings of unworthiness and that they know that I was truly humbled and appreciated their generosity.

I know so many stories about KoAloha being so generous, and I am learning more all the time as I interview different owners about their KoAloha ukuleles. I also see how much love they engender in the customers - that they consider ohana, or family. I spent much of the day yesterday at a man's house - he has seven KoAlohas, including the first ever Pineapple Sunday and the first ever Jukulele. Tomorrow I get to interview Gary San Angel, who directed both movies about KoAloha, "The KoAloha Story," and "My KoAloha Story." It is so wonderful hearing all of their stories - I even interviewed two people that had the KoAloha logo tattooed on them, if that isn't loyalty I don't know what is!

Writing the book about Moore Bettah ukuleles was the greatest professional experience of my life (and one of the top personal ones as well), far surpassing the stupid courtroom litigation work I used to do as a lawyer. I am blessed to find that writing about KoAloha is a deeply moving, emotional experience as well. It is fascinating to me that one little company can spread so much love and joy, and truly make people feel like they are ohana. I only hope that I can in some small way repay them for their gift...and on a far less serious note, I can say that this project has rekindled a lust for getting a KoAloha abalone rosette slimline tenor or custom. Once that tax refund arrives, all bets are off, even if I have a long time to wait before I can get one.
 
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janeray1940

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Awesome story, Staci. You seem to have a really special bond with Koaloha - you are totally worthy of that gift!
 

stevejfc

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What a amazing story, Staci. If your upcoming book on KoAloha is anything like your wonderful Moore Bettah book, you will have more than given back to Pops and all the KoAloha fans around the world.
 

keod

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What a heart-warming story. I believe in karma and paying it forward - yes, the folks at KoAloha were incredibly generous but you are also deserving of it. When you "give" you "get" much more in return so KoAloha will be repaid for their kindness and you should just enjoy the gift without guilt as you have already paid it forward within the ukulele community by sharing your knowledge and advice. Happy for you!
 

UkerDanno

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I'm betting you won't have to wait long for that KoAloha abalone rosette slimline tenor! :shaka:
 

turtledrum

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Your story is a testament to the aloha in Koaloha. Pops and Moms are as good as good can be. Thanks for enabling others to know.
 

NatalieS

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Staci, this is really special and a very sweet story. I hope you know how much of a gift you are giving to the ukulele community by documenting the Moore Bettah and Koaloha stories in book form. I read my MB book in one sitting this week, smiling and shedding more than one tear at all the stories from the MB ohana. I'm sure the KoAloha book will be just as special! You are very deserving of their gift to you... what a sweet gesture on their part and yet another reminder of how this wonderful instrument brings us all together.
 

M3Ukulele

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I've never met the folks at KoAloha but stories the this and others as well as their "better than weather warranty" and related stores point the the fact that Pops and family are very genuine and worthy of our support. That is why I purchased my KoAloha .........based of reputation. You can tell they are good people by their actions........on and did I not mention their ukuleles sound good and play beautiful.

Enjoy you tenor guilt free....you and KoAloha are doing goods things with good intentions.
 

Jayfuzi

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Wonderful story Staci! Just another example of the warmth and generosity of the ukulele community! I also like to believe that good things happen to good people! :D
 

Tigeralum2001

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My problem is I have liked every ukulele luthier I have met. They are just good people! Maybe that is why we love the uke, because they are made by good people?
 

Nickie

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WTG! Such a heartwarming story. You are a very talented writer, I could feel that I was actually there watching that conversation. Congrats on that uke. I'm sure you didn't expect that!
 

wickedwahine11

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Thanks very much for the kind words everyone. They are much appreciated. :)
 

Kekani

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I'm swinging by there tomorrow afternoon to pick up some stuff. I'll let Paul know about this thread. He hasn't been here in years, neither has Dustin.

The Okami's are super cool, as is their staff. One day I may be able to tell you about the razor blade I used to cut a gash in the end graft of a custom instrument that was on Griz' bench. Yes, intentional, yes, eyes popped and jaw on the floor. . .
 

Teek

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Of course you are worthy. When people want to give from the heart we should always accept graciously and enthusiastically. If we don't we rob the giver of some of their joy in giving! Besides the KoAloha you sold was certainly in good company, and I'm sure it was appreciated by the buyer, coming with all that extra great mojo! ;)

Nothing to feel guilt or shame over. We are too shame and guilt based as a society. Some blow by left here from Puritan colonizers no doubt. :(
 

Mivo

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Love the KoAloha sound, and have two of their instruments so far -- it's definitely an added bonus to know that this is such a great bunch of people. :)