Maui Business

Pop-Up Mākeke Puts Nearly $2 Million Back into Hawaiʻi Small Businesses

January 13, 2021, 9:54 AM HST
* Updated January 14, 8:07 AM
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Pop-Up Mākeke. Courtesy photo via County of Maui.

The online marketplace providing support for Hawaiʻi’s small businesses through the pandemic made a notable difference in the state’s economy during its  second shopping period.  

To date, the Pop-Up Mākeke has put $1,963,889 million dollars into the pockets of hundreds of Hawaiʻi-based small and micro-businesses.  

The mākeke (market, in Hawaiian) served as a virtual hub for 367 Hawaiʻi small business owners, artisans, and vendors. It was created in April 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic cut off a vital revenue stream, forcing the cancellation of the Merrie Monarch Festival. For many vendors, participation in the festival provided financial stability for a large part of the year.

“Seeing how Pop-Up Mākeke generated not just income, but hope, for so many of our local small businesses during the first run in April and May, we knew we had to bring it back—bigger and better,” explained Kūhiō Lewis, CEO of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, which oversees and runs the mākeke. “When we launched in October, the community support for the mākeke and these vendors was incredible. That support grew through November and December, as people across Hawaiʻi, on the Continent, and around the world showed their support for these struggling small businesses.”

From Oct. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020, popupmakeke.com sold 101,943 items for Hawaiʻi-based vendors.

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The goal of Pop-Up Mākeke is to leverage the power of community to uplift the people who need help, in this case, struggling small businesses. It not only helped them in their time of need but also provided new business experiences.

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“Pop-Up Mākeke is trying to help our community rise and pull each other up and help pull up who ever is ready to go. It offers resources to talk about your business more,” Tanya Uyehara of Lahaʻole Designs. “We are taught not to talk about ourselves too much. Pop-Up Mākeke gives us a space to step back and step out to sell ourselves and what we have to share a little bit more.”

“The strength of a community comes from the people, groups, businesses, agencies within. We rely on one another for our successes, because even small failures can impact us all,”  said Lewis.

“We aren’t just looking for a short-term solution. By coming together and empowering these vendors, through sales and financial education, we can offer new opportunities, new perspectives, and new hope to sustain our community well beyond this pandemic.”  

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The second run of Pop-Up Mākeke and popupmakeke.com were funded by CARES Act funds from the City & County of Honolulu and Maui County, as well as a partnership with Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Bank of Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines and many other civic organizations. All orders were shipped or delivered for free worldwide. 

During the last two weeks of December, an overwhelming amount of orders caused slight delays in processing and on-time delivery. However, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement added more staff and resources to help with getting orders filled.

Discussion are underway to look at how Pop-Up Mākeke will continue its mission to support and uplift small and micro businesses.

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