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Made in Hawaii Festival returns, with a new set of challenges (and opportunities)

Made in Hawaii Festival returns, with a new set of challenges (and opportunities)

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 10:03 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Made in Hawaii Festival made its return after a pandemic year off. For some, the phrase now has a deeper meaning.

The pandemic highlighted Hawaii’s dependence on the rest of the world, but may have spurred people to become more self-sufficient.

The festival also comes at a time when continued challenges are happening because of the continuing pandemic and other economic stresses.

That includes the worldwide slowdown in the supply chain.

“We’ve been doing a lot of mail orders and pickup at stores,” said shopper Emily Higa.

“People are very concerned that if they do order something online or from the mainland that they’re not going to get it in time, so they wanted to come here and do all their holiday shopping,” said festival spokesperson Olena Heu.

It’s not just consumers. Merchants are also facing challenges in getting the raw materials for their products.

“We have to purchase our shirt lengths when they’re available, because if you don’t purchase it at that time, you’re not going to get it or you’re going to have to spend weeks trying to get it in,” said Paul Higashi of HiLife 808, which has a variety of t-shirt designs.

The name — Made in Hawaii Festival — itself is an easy pitch to get people to shop local.

“If you do make purchases from people abroad, it’s not really benefiting anyone locally, and it’s also contributing to the wear and tear on the environment,” said Heu.

“We were mostly focused on tourism before, but now we’re kind of focused on taking care of our ohana here — people here that live in Hawaii, making things that people that live here, want,” said Alana Penarosa of Tag Aloha Co. of Kailua, which was selling tote bags and other items.

The festival is being held at Ala Moana Center through Sunday.

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Made in Hawaii Festival returns, with a new set of challenges (and opp