FIVE QUESTIONS WITH CINDY'S LEI AND FLOWER SHOPPE MANAGER KAREN LAU LEE
Gathered by Kaycee Macaraeg, photo by Rachel Halemanu
What drew you to Chinatown?
The current business location originally started off in Chinatown as a barbershop business run by first generation, grandfather Fook Shing Lau, for many years. A couple of Hawaiian lei sellers were stringing and selling leis nearby on the sidewalk on the same street. One of the children, second generation, thought why not join them. Two sisters and my grandmother made leis and corsages.
About that time the customer base was locals, along with the arrival of the Lurline and the Matson ships that were sailing into the Honolulu Harbor. Thus, the beginning of the lei business for the Lau family in Chinatown. It never dawned on the family to this day to change location. Vendors, airport, and the post office were also easily accessible. Three generations of family lived in Chinatown at least one point in their lives. Now, no family lives in Chinatown anymore.
How do you feel about the homeless population in Chinatown?
It’s sad that visitors have to see the homeless have such a blatant presence on the sidewalks. These homeless are someone’s child, parent, sibling, relative … A lot of them are not well and prefer to be free of rules/counseling/professional services however adequate/inadequate they may be. Many think it’s dangerous here but not really.
Where is your favorite place to get lunch in Chinatown?
Maguro Brothers, Happy Garden.
Describe Chinatown in 5 words or less.
The far side of town.
If Chinatown were an ice cream flavor, what would it be?
Li hing mui.