Lei shops prepare for reopening on Lei Day


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The first wave of business re-openings here in the islands are slated for Friday. One of the businesses opening just in time for one of the busiest seasons is florists. They will be open May 1st for Lei Day.

Like many local industries, florists are trying to adapt to a new normal. This year in particular has been challenging because of the pandemic, and now, a shortage of certain flowers. However many florists KHON spoke to say they are ready to get back to work.

 “This is the very first day that we came in so we can try to get going so that we can get some stuff out to the west coast for May Day,” said Carlos Campos, The Hawaiian Lei Company co-owner.

But Campos says it hasn’t been easy.

“It’s been difficult because a lot of the farms, they actually cut down on production,” said Campos.

Certain flowers like orchids, carnations, tuberose and pikake are difficult to get.

“We have some local orchids and we do have some cigar leis and stuff like that… it’s very limited right now as far as what we have. We’re hoping to get some pikake and stuff starting next week,” said Campos.

At Tina’s Lei Shop, the Thailand flowers that they often use are also unavailable.

“They have flowers, but they have no flights. So the supply from Thailand had to call our local supply and said, ‘sorry, we had to cancel because there’s no flight,’” said Tina Nguyen, Tina’s Lei Shop owner.

But that’s not stopping them. She said they have a shipment of roses, pikake and cigar, and they are getting straight to work in the morning.

“For me, I’m really thankful we’re able to open the shop back again. It’s the biggest financial relief, and [it’s a big emotional] moment for us to [serve] back to the community,” said Nguyen.

They say they are looking forward to sales starting with May Day.

Even though big May Day events are canceled this year, the City and County of Honolulu has created the Na Lei Koa event in its stead. To take part, you can display a lei on your mailbox to show appreciation for essential workers and emergency responders.

“It’s not replacing lei day, but it’s a different way to celebrate Lei Day,” said Samantha Sun, City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation culture and arts specialist. “Because we can’t touch each other and give each other hugs anymore, the best way we could do it is to display the lei at least to show that we put our effort and our love and effort into this lei.”

“So whether you’re here or whether your loved ones are across the country, you can still send them a lei. You can still send them flowers, and tell them we’re there with you, we may not be able to be with you, but we’re there with you,” said Campos.

The lei shops say they’ve already set up plans for social distancing. Some shops, like The Hawaiian Lei Company, are even doing curbside pick-up and delivery. You can call each shop to check what their opening hours are and how business will be done.

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