Hawaii businesses preparing for Lei Day while facing COVID-19 challenges

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Lei businesses are ramping up to kick off what they hope to be a busy lei season. However, they are still facing challenges due to COVID-19.

“Business has been booming. People are ready to get out, be able to get out of this quarantine and be able to do some celebration with their families their loved ones with all these events. So our phone is ringing off the hooks from across the country,” said Carlos Campos, The Hawaiian Lei Company owner.

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However, Campos said because of COVID-19 it has been challenging bringing in supplies of flowers from overseas.

“With the lack of air travel coming into Hawaii, it makes it very difficult to bring in products, our products can’t sit on a boat, they’re perishable,” said Campos.

He said some of the flowers that have been difficult to bring over include colorful orchid flowers.

However, it isn’t just overseas supply that is difficult to get, but local supply as well. Lei shops say with farms closing down or planting less flowers, that’s been affecting the supply as well, leading to some locally grown flowers like pikake, tuberose and ginger to be harder to get.

Lei Shop Owners like Tina Nguyen, owner of Tina’s Lei Shop, have had to change tactics.

“Before, we only deal with one vendor, now we deal with multiple vendors, so we’re able to bring in more lei to be ready for lei day,” said Nguyen.

Shop owners also recommend people buy early.

“Place your orders soon and be flexible. I know people fall in love with a certain style, a certain flower, but I think this year people have to be flexible,” said Campos.

Even with the issues with supply, lei shops are hopeful this celebration season will help business after a tough year.

“I hope to be better than last year,” said Nguyen. “This year we’re preparing so we’re able to reach out to more customers, more people … They can come to our shop, there’s more variety.”

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