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Despite continued uncertainty, Hawaii’s small businesses optimistic about economic rebound

Published: Nov. 27, 2021 at 5:49 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 27, 2021 at 9:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Economists expect to see a rebounding economy in 2022 as they foresee more tourists coming to Hawaii.

While the last year was a tough one for many small businesses, they’re staying optimistic for the future.

And on Small Business Saturday, they were upbeat about holiday sales.

“We’re looking forward to more traffic in the near future,” said Katie Ziemann, sales and marketing manager of Lonohana Chocolate at SALT at Our Kakaako.

Designer Rumi Murakami added:

“With the new variant kind of rearing its ugly head, I think we’ve all had to sort of accept that we need to just keep moving forward and figure out different ways to manage rules and changes.”

Sumner La Croix, senior fellow at the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, says 2022 is looking bright but he adds the newest COVID variant could shake things up.

“And we’ll take more protective measures that would mean people would want to stay indoors more, and they’ll be moving more of their transactions online, if that’s the case,” La Croix said.

That’s a lesson many businesses say they have learned in the last two years preparing for changing rules and restrictions.

Ziemann said Lonohana began selling their chocolate wholesale this year to bring their product to a larger market.

“It was a way to diversify our revenue streams,” Ziemann said.

Murakami said she had to quickly expand her online shop focusing on marketing and reach more people.

“What’s nice about having a small business and being online is people can still, you know, email me directly or call me and I can communicate with them and do a lot of customer service, digitally,” she said.

“Instagram, and you know, social media has been important.”

La Croix says we’ll see more small businesses online.

“And so a lot of businesses look to the experiments and said, these have worked out really well, let’s continue to do more online transactions, if not 100%, but a lot, a much bigger percentage,” said La Croix.

“And the third reason is a possibility that the that the Omicron variant, will all of a sudden become a very serious threat to Hawaii.”

In the meantime, these businesses hope consumers shop local and visit their brick-and-mortar stores.

“It’s really important to support our small businesses, our local businesses, and especially businesses associated with local agriculture, helping our local farms,” said Ziemann.

“As a small business, we just really appreciate our customers,” added Murakami. “Loyal customers are kind of what makes small businesses survive..”

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