“Need anything from here?” is a question commonly asked by stateside visitors coming to the Pacific. My last off-island guests arrived carrying a set of motorcycle tires for a friend here and a hard-to-find light bulb that I had been needing to replace. While their hands were also full upon their departure — with bags full of dried mango, achiote seeds and their personal favorite, li hing strawberry candy — the assumption more often is that our remote location means that we have the more limited options when it comes to goods — clothing, food or otherwise.
When I first moved to Guam about 10 years ago, yes, I could spout off a list of things I needed — a lot them specialty grocery items that weren’t available here. But now when I’m asked that question, I feel almost panicked that I can’t think of anything and might miss the opportunity. Generally these days, I find I have everything I need, or at least a suitable replacement, right here in Guam. My visiting relatives are surprised with every visit to see coffee shops now in every shopping center, quinoa and almond butter in Pay-Less and up to 20-some beers on tap in some establishments.
Our island wholesalers are on the front lines of this product diversification in the region, and it turns out, beverages are one of the most active categories within the industry — everything from craft beer to sparkling water. While consumers seem to enjoy experimenting with new and different beverages, the wine and spirits wholesalers we interviewed can attest that the consumer palate in our islands is becoming more sophisticated, more educated. And the wholesalers are rising to this occasion with success. Certain product markets, even though they’ve experienced double-digit growth in sales in recent years, are far from saturated, with room for even more expansion and diversification.
Many of the family businesses we feature this issue are no strangers to diversification, and that’s been a key to their longevity over several generations. They’ve stayed true to their initial product or service but branched into new products — and even new industries and new islands — as opportunities presented themselves. So many family businesses in the region have succeeded under this model that it was challenging to choose just five to feature. The ones we chose are just a sample representation of the many that contribute to our island economies — from small business to multi-million dollar conglomerates and from law firms to franchises.
As food, drink and family businesses are diversifying on island, so, too, is Glimpses Publications. We hope you’ll have a chance to see the first issue of the newest member to our family of publications, MBJ Life. The business community in our region is ever-evolving, and this new magazine, distributed on a quarterly basis to Marianas Business Journal subscribers, captures the people of that community in a fun and fresh light. We’ll be featuring the friends, colleagues and acquaintances you already know at home, at play and on vacation. Check out the first issue at mbjguam.com.