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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 26, 2010

Archery shop owner's an expert with a bow

By Robbie Dingeman

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Danelle Pulawa, owner/manager of The Island Archer, has been trained as an archer since she was a child.

ROBBIE DINGEMAN | The Honolulu Advertiser

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How long in business? 20 years

Number of employees: Two — owner/manager Danelle Pulawa and her brother, Daniel Consolacion Jr.

Describe your business: “We sell archery equipment — sales and service.”

Core strategy: “Having a little niche and being well-rounded. It’s just taking time for everybody.”

Business tip: “Technology changes every year, we need to keep up.”

Fun fact: The pyrotechnics experts on the the Hawaiçi-based TV show “Lost” bought about six dozen arrows to create “a whole bunch of arrows flying” for an episode.

The Island Archer is at 3180 Koapaka St. 833-8731.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The Island Archer caters to a mostly local mix of hunters and sporting enthusiasts and is open Monday through Saturday.

ROBBIE DINGEMAN | The Honolulu Advertiser

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"The Island Archer" specializes in selling bows, arrows and archery equipment and providing the expertise and experience needed to offer advice and service to its customers.

For 20 years, owner/manager Danelle Pulawa, 47, has been supplying archery equipment to archers — a mix of mostly local hunters and sports enthusiasts.

Her stock ranges from traditional wooden bows and arrows to high-tech compound bows and carbon arrows.

Trained as an archer since she was a child, Pulawa still prefers the simpler traditional bow when she gets a chance to get out to one of O'ahu's four archery ranges.

"When I have time, I just like to fling arrows," she said.

She said people usually get started in archery at school or camp with relatives or friends because there are few if any year-round formal classes or coaching opportunities.

Over the years, her shop has also been discovered by some more famous customers, including actors Josh Holloway and Matthew Fox from "Lost" and Paul Walker from "Fast and the Furious."

Pulawa's brother, who helps in the business, prefers the higher-tech bows. Their father got them both started with archery but Pulawa said it remained more of a male-dominated hobby through her teen years.

Pulawa was studying to be a commercial artist until funding was cut for her school program in Tacoma, Wash. She moved home to Hawai'i and gradually took over her dad's home-based business after her parents moved to the Big Island.

In 1990, she ventured out on her own, expanding the business along with her young family. Her biggest challenge has been competition from big-box and online stores that sometimes sell their products for less but don't offer as much service or expertise.

Pulawa said people who take up archery as children with their parents or grandparents, at camp or school often will come back to it later in life.

"Once you're an archer, you're always an archer," she said.

Look around the store and you'll find a gallery of photos taken by the customers.

Sometimes people will buy equipment from a big-box store like Sports Authority or online, then visit her store.

Sometimes she has to tell them that off-the-rack merchandise isn't one-size-fits all.

"Take it back, it doesn't fit you," she'll say.

A customer can get started with a basic traditional bow for about $175, while the high-tech compound bows easily cost $650.

The newer bows are a big draw for many. But she cautions customers that they can be compared to a car or a computer with constantly changing styles.

"In a year, it's going to be somewhat outdated," she warns.

She said every time, archers show up in a movie, her business surges. She said she noticed an increase after Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood," as well as "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Scorpion King." And now it's happened again with "Avatar."

"9/11 brought a surge of people." Pulawa added.

On a recent weekday morning, her store was busy. Customer Richard Cordeiro stopped in to pick up some arrows for hunting. He said he and his wife and son make hunting a family outing when they can.

"Bow hunting is challenging," he said before showing Pulawa a photo of his family's last outing.