Lei Vendors Hit by High Gas Prices - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lei Vendors Hit by High Gas Prices

Sonny Le Sonny Le
Kay Kadooka Kay Kadooka
Randy Kila Randy Kila

By Roger Mari

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Its graduation season, which is also the "make it or break it" time for lei vendors. Higher gas prices mean the economic outlook for flower businesses is anything but pretty.

This graduation season higher gas prices are affecting everyone from the lei vendor to the lei shop owner, down to the customer. Many of the flowers come from as far as Waimanalo and Waianae in large vans or trucks that consume lots of gas.

"Obviously it's a trickle effect and it comes down to the consumer unfortunately," said Lei Shop Owner Holly Reiplinger.

For regular customers, the price hike in lei comes as no surprise during this time of year. But for the classes of 2008, the lei they receive will cost roughly 2-dollars more at most flower shops downtown.

"A lot of the usual customers they know that from coming year to year prices are always going to be higher during graduation but, this year is especially high because of the gas prices," said Lei Shop Manager Sonny Le.

Kay Kadooka runs two flower shops downtown and notices a unique way customers are saving gas money this graduation season.

"More groups instead of driving individually. The get together and the whole family come out and eat and then get their lei," aid Floral Designer Kay Kadooka.

The cost of lei might have gone up along with the cost of a gallon of gas, but for some customers its money well spent.

"Its tradition and I feel good about having a lei for my son. I don't want him to be graduating without leis," said Customer Randy Kila.

It's hard to tell what the future holds for some of these years' graduates, but it's no secret gas prices and the cost of some lei will continue to rise.

Not all flower shops downtown are increasing the price of their lei. Kay Kadooka says in the spirit of aloha she is actually lowering prices for this years graduates.

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