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A Sweet Way To Support, Buy Local

BY NEAL ARAKAKI, president of Menehune Mac

Small-business owners, while lacking the resources of our larger counterparts (staff, borrowing capacity, credit lines), are a critical part of any economy. We survived a lot of hardships in the past with 9/11, the Japanese bubble economy and the Great Recession; but none of those events have taken away so much from us as COVID-19.

Menehune Mac was established in 1939 and is a family-run business. We continue to hand-make our products and offer various chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, cookies and other confections out of our factory store on Waiakamilo Road in Kalihi.

The pandemic and its effects have forced us to reexamine our core beliefs. We have always been a company that supports local businesses, and we are more committed today than ever. We have not deviated from our use of locally grown macadamia nuts in our products. That is part of our identity. Disruption to the supply chain has reinforced our appreciation for our fellow food manufacturers that supply us with materials and finished products to keep our business going.

Candymaker Liza Baldovi prepares chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. PHOTOS COURTESY MENEHUNE MAC

We were able to pivot in past challenges. When Japan’s economy declined, we pivoted from boxed chocolate macadamia nuts to higher-end amenity items and gift baskets for corporations, hotels and special events. However, with the pandemic, wherever we turned, there was nothing there. No tourists, no weddings, no birthday or retirement parties; no omiyage shopping either.

We’ve survived for 81 years so far, and we’re determined to see our 82nd birthday and beyond.

Being a small business in Hawai‘i is challenging and COVID is making sure that we never forget it. The words “buy local” are more important to us than ever. With the holiday season upon us, we ask that everyone consider buying local. We know that our prices may not be the cheapest compared to imported and mass-produced items, but we are the businesses that keep our economy and employment base going. We pay our taxes and do our fair share. All we ask is that you consider local businesses when shopping this year. Our survival may depend on it.

For more information, visit menehunemac.com.