HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s no secret that the Maui Jim Maui Invitational is one of the premiere college basketball tournaments in the country, thousands of out of town visitors flocking to the Valley Isle during Thanksgiving week.
With the influx of thousands of new visitors isolated for the course of three days, local vendors benefit from the crowds.
While highlight plays dominate the inside of the Lahaina Civic Center, the outside continues to buzz with activity from the beginning of the day until the end.
The Kine Shave Ice Spot, Cool Cat Cafe and Hula Grill are just a few of the local Maui food vendors to benefit from the crowds.
The Maui Food Bank has been apart of the Maui Invitational for the last 11 years. The organization takes donated items such as jerseys and signed basketballs from the teams participating in the tournament and holds a silent auction.
The proceeds from the auction are then used to feed Hawaii’s less fortunate, on three different islands.
Richard Yust is the executive director of the MFB and says the tournament has always served as a way to give back to the local people.
“Whats so great about the Maui Invitational is the give back to the community,” said Yust. “This tournament has really benefited the Maui Food Bank, and for over 11 years, it has allowed us to provide over 250,000 meals, and it helps feed people on the islands of Lanai and Molokai as well.”
The Cool Cat Cafe has been voted 'Maui’s Best Burger" for 16 straight years.
Marketing Director Chuck Sherwood says the tournament always serves as an added boost in revenue during November.
“From these booths we’ll bring in about 5-7 thousand dollars a day,” said Sherwood. “Over the course of the whole thing we’ll bring in about 15-20 thousand dollars over the course of the three day tournament and it also helps businesses down on front Street as well.”
The Maui Invitational serves as a win-win for local Island businesses and hoop fans every year.