A well-known bookshop in Samoa and American Samoa has opened in Auckland, but with added special products unique to the Pacific. Samoa Stationery and Books Ltd (S.S.A.B) was launched on Friday night at the newly opened Samoa House at Mangere Town Centre.
Owner and chief executive, Fiti Leung Wai, says the Auckland shop will be a little different to S.S.A.B shops in Upolu, Savaii and American Samoa.
“We’re calling S.S.A.B’s Auckland branch ‘SeiOriana Gift Shop’ since we’ll be selling a wide range of jewellery, clothes, shoes, handicrafts and Samoan books,” she says.
“Included in such range are high-end Samoan fashion brands like Mena and Janet’s, which already has a huge following in New Zealand.”
“Sei Oriana will also give the opportunity to small scale Samoan carvers, weavers, seamstresses, Elei printers and artisans to export their products to a much bigger market. Many small entrepreneurs back in Samoa cannot afford to risk exporting their products on their own, but as a large reseller, SSAB is able to help by shouldering the risk.”
“SeiOriana will support our community back home. Hopefully Samoans in Auckland will show them some love by shopping here this Christmas and beyond.”
S.S.A.B has shipped a container of Samoan made products to New Zealand to stock Sei Oriana.
The SSAB chain first opened its doors in Samoa in August 2008 and is among the fastest growing businesses in Samoa. It started with four employees but is now employing over 100 people in Samoa alone.
The Auckland shop is its sixth branch. Fiti says that while the focus of Sei Oriana is on Samoan-made products, it will not completely stray from SSAB’s roots.
S.S.A.B currently has an online shop where overseas customers can pay for electronics, whiteware and furniture for their families back home to collect. A “Family Corner” has been set up, where customers can inspect displayed whiteware, furniture and beds and pay in-store and their family in Samoa can pick them up.
S.S.A.B started out first as a stationery and book store hence the name Samoa Stationery and Books Limited.
“I started this business because there was a need in the Samoan market for a good bookshop with cheap books as well as affordable pricing on stationery products for school kids,” Fiti told the New Zealand Pacific newspaper.
“I always want the children of Samoa to be smart and I know that no Samoan parents would want their children to fail at education.”
“As the business expanded to other areas such as furniture and electronics, I then decided to brand it “SSAB” - easier and catchy.
“The slogan ‘Simply the Best’ was later added as we always strive to be the best at what we do at SSAB.”
The idea of having S.S.A.B branches around the Pacific region has “always been in the back of my mind,” Fiti says.
“I already have a branch in American Samoa and the idea of setting up shop in NZ but with a focus on products made in Samoa came from God after my round table meeting last year in NZ with key Pacific people involved with business.
“When I had the idea I knew that there would be many challenges but I always believe in God and having that positive drive to always push through no matter what.”
Fiti was inspired to launch the Auckland shop after meeting with John Key here last year, when she was awarded the prestigious New Zealand Prime Minister’s Fellowship - presented for being a proficient and outstanding entrepreneur in Samoa
“Part of the award was the opportunity for me to meet with anyone in NZ of my choosing,” Fiti says.
“I chose to meet with community leaders involved with business and charitable work so I can learn from them and expand my network.”
Fiti plans to expand - when the time is right - to other Pacific countries, as well as Australia and the United States.