A Shelluva Business: The Shell Factory
By Kent Coules, Publisher
It is always fascinating to learn the back story of how someone ended up in Hawai‘i, or how they started their business. Todd Crawford of Kaua‘i’s The Shell Factory is no exception.
“My parents started The Shell Factory as a retirement business in 1982,” says Crawford. “They had a jewelry store business in San Jose and vacationed regularly on Kaua‘i. They loved it so much they started thinking about retiring here. That was the start of our business.”
Some of the beautiful creations you'll find at The Shell Factory
Originally it was a wholesale business but tourists kept walking into the Kapa‘a location asking if they could buy the shells, so eventually, Crawford’s parents expanded into retail. “There have been times when I’ve considered changing our name because ‘The Shell Factory’ was geared toward the original premise of the business. But after 37 successful years, it’s hard. We still get people walking in on occasion asking us if we manufacture our own shells, however!”
Crawford was in sixth grade when he and his family moved to Kaua‘i. The retirement business eventually grew to six stores. In 2002, he purchased two of those stores from his parents. “I bought them right after 9/11,” he says, adding that “it was not the best time to take over.”
He had to get creative and started crafting mobiles, mirrors, wind chimes, magnets, nightlights and lamps out of shells to supplement sales. It turned out that these additions are still a staple of the business today, both at The Shell Factory and at Sea Reflections, their store located at Kilohana in Lihue.
“We pride ourselves on being able to satisfy every visitor who walks in our stores,” says Crawford. “We have shells that cost 50 cents, and Kaua‘i hand-made jewelry that sells for anywhere from $30 to $1,000. We truly have keepsakes for everyone.”
Crawford makes much of the jewelry himself. He uses local koa wood and beach glass to craft necklaces, bracelets and earrings with pink and blue coral. “We’re one of the only places where you can find Kaua‘i made artisan products, with something in every price range. That’s why we have regular customers who come back year after year.”
Visit The Shell Factory in person at 4-885A Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa on Kaua‘i.
Keywords: shell factory kauai shopping kauai shopping Kapaa souvenirs kauai souvenirs Kapaa shell factory hawaii shell factory Kapaa gift shops kauai kong lung historic market center Kapaa shell jewelry
Plan Your Trip
Book Your Vacation
Plan your own idyllic getaway with the Hawaii travel experts. Our partner, Pleasant Holidays, has created unforgettable vacations to the Hawaiian Islands for more than half a century, and can help you with all your travel arrangements.
Experience Your Hawaii
Enhance your vacation with activities and experience the very best of the islands. From helicopter flights to snorkeling adventures, from luaus to eco-tours, Pleasant Activities has hundreds of engaging activities that will catch your fancy.