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After months of hanging on by a thread, airport lei stands say business is booming

Published: Jun. 11, 2021 at 6:10 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 7:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the middle of the pandemic, lei stands at the Honolulu International Airport were hanging on by a thread.

Six months ago, they were quiet. Many stands were shuttered.

But as the state began to reopen, stand owners said more people started coming through the doors to buy lei.

However, with business booming, owners said they are now facing another problem — not enough flowers.

Some owners said they run out by the end of the day because mainland flower farms haven’t fully recovered.

Although a flower shortage is a huge problem, owners said it’s not so bad considering a slow down of business a few months ago — a time when they were lucky to make any sales at all.

“It’s been hard,” said Bonnie Groendyke, the owner of Gladys’ Lei Stand. “We would constantly sit here and sell every day, every night and just pray that someone comes in the door.”

Groendyke is the fifth generation working at the lei stand. She was worried that years of hard work from her family would come to an end.

“This is something that we grew up with,” she said. “Just to see things fall apart, you know, and shut down, brings me tears. My grandma worked so hard to take care of all of us and this business has meant everything to her.”

She said her grandmother who started the lei stand wouldn’t have wanted to see her family stop the business. So in order to stay afloat, they took out loans and fulfilled any orders they could.

“Grandma would want us to just keep carrying on instead of giving up,” she said. “But we made it through and now it’s time to and catch up. Everything has been on the right path so far.”

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