Following pandemic losses, local business sees silver lining in Kilauea’s glow – KHON2

by: Brigette Namata

Posted: / Updated:

HILO, Hawaii (KHON2) — A few miles from Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is an orchid nursery that’s been around for almost 50 years.

When Kilauea started to erupt again, more visitors flocked to the area to get a glimpse of the orange glow. It’s good news for Akatsuka Orchid Gardens, one of the many local businesses in the area that rely heavily on the foot traffic from the park.

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After being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Takeshi Akatsuka saw the eruption as a positive sign for business. He said there’s been a 15% increase in foot traffic since Friday.

“We had to adapt when the pandemic hit,” Akatsuka said. “Basically, our retail operation just ceased and stopped, so fortunately, at that point we had to transition to more of a wholesale online process for us, and then we were able to survive going that route.”

Now, they’re getting roughly between 800 to 1,000 people daily at their peak.

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Akatsuka emphasized that supporting local business is very important right now. First-time visitors will find an array of plants and orchids, even one that smells like chocolate!