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This aloha shirt business survived the pandemic with a little help from its friends in Japan

kona bay hawaii.jpeg
Kona Bay Hawaii/Facebook
Kusuo “KC” Kiuchi

Small businesses were one of the many casualties of the pandemic. Those that were able to survive learned valuable lessons about adapting and evolving to reach new customer bases. One local business that managed to hang on is Kona Bay Hawaii. It specializes in 1950s-inspired aloha shirts.

When Kona Bay Hawaii opened in 2001, it primarily marketed itself to Japanese visitors. But after the pandemic cut off international travel from many Asian countries in 2020, the company’s owner Kusuo “KC” Kiuchi realized his business model needed to change. The Conversation sat down with Kiuchi to talk about how his business survived with the help of loyal customers.

This interview aired on The Conversation on May 3, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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