Chinatown businesses see sales rise even as public Chinese New Year celebrations cancelled

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Chinese New Year is on Friday, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, residents will be ushering in the year of the ox without many celebrations. However, even without the big parade or the street festival this year, Chinatown businesses are seeing some good fortune in the days leading up to Chinese New Year.

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There won’t be any large public lion dances or entertainment like last year’s celebration. Instead, this year will be a lot quieter. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce has cancelled its annual Chinese New Year Celebration.

“We can’t have more than five people to get together, so it’s almost impossible for us to do any events in person,” said Elvira Lo, Chinese Chamber of Commerce president. “We decided just might as well cancel it. We don’t want to put people into jeopardy, worry and other type of feelings.”

Even though Chinese New Year celebrations are cancelled for this year, some local shops said they are working hard to keep the spirit of Chinese New Year alive.

“We have the lion come to our individual store,” said Michael Wu, owner of Tea Hut and Chinese Art. “We have a lion dance even though we cannot go to the public. They’ll also bring good fortune to the owner to the residence.”

But it already seems like his business has struck some good luck, with the sales of good luck charms and red envelopes. He said business starting picking up again in late January.

“The business is kicking up pretty good, so I’m so happy about that,” said Wu.

He is not the only one seeing a bump in business in Chinatown.

“It’s been real busy this week. Sales have picked up like over 100%,” said Jacky Au, Bo Wah Trading Co. salesman.

At Bo Wah Trading Co. they are seeing tons of people buying sweet candies. People are also buying sugar and rice flour in bulk to make popular treat gau in their own homes.

“Everybody is picking up cases … Because everyone’s not going out for dine (out), like restaurants. They’ve been buying more stuff to stay home.”

Jacky Au, Bo Wah Trading Co. Salesman

Au said he like many others will be celebrating from home this year, making traditional foods and popping some firecrackers.

With vaccines being distributed, Lo said the Chinese Chamber of Commerce hopes to bring back the celebrations next year.

“Hopefully we can make it even bigger and more elaborate,” said Lo. “We want to bring back all the fun and the cultural and celebration atmosphere to everybody in Chinatown.”

However, what can people expect this upcoming year of the ox?

“The symbol of the ox, it tells people the ox is hardworking,” said Wu. “So it probably tells us we need to work a little harder to get our job back, to get everything back, come back into normal life, but we have to put effort into it.”

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