The Maui Chamber of Commerce is pleased to participate in the 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show to showcase Made In Maui products and promote our island and small businesses.
We are part of an amazing team of individuals and organizations that are committed to maximizing this occasion for all back home and wanted to share a bit about what we are finding and hearing in Philadelphia.
While the weather is typically very cold this time of year, it has been uncharacteristically warm. A high of 70 degrees may even be reached this week, so thankfully snow boots were not needed. Philadelphia residents are floored. We have been telling folks that we brought the warm weather with us. They thank us.
People in Philadelphia are wonderful and welcoming. The question most asked is "Why would you leave Maui to come here?" When we explain it is to share our aloha spirit and good things from Maui with them, the response is incredible. We have been thanked over and over again by show participants for coming this year. They truly love Maui, our tropical flowers and our products.
They long to visit Maui or come back, and we have heard many endearing stories. Those who visited long ago speak fondly of the former Intercontinental Hotel. Most frequently mentioned has been the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel because it embodies Hawaii for them. Time-share owners talk about when they will be back. The Haleakala sunrise, related biking adventures, road to Hana and the Ali'i Kula Lavender farm have been brought up several times.
Made In Maui booth attendees like everything offered, including: fabulous fragrances and lotions from Hawaiian Classic Perfumes, Maui No Ka Oi magazine subscriptions, and tuberose bulbs and plumeria starts from Paradise Plumeria. Some report a tough time growing plumeria in cold weather; yet, they are determined to keep trying because they cherish the flowers and scent.
They are also enamored with the tropical flowers from Maui Flowers Growers Association and excited to purchase coffee from Maui Coffee Association. Sweet Paradise Chocolatier chocolates have been a delight, as well as the diverse Hawaiian products in Genuine From Hawaii's booth. Further, they enjoy talking with the Maui Visitors Bureau and enthusiastically take Maui maps, trip planners, and "I (heart symbol) Maui" buttons.
As they stop by each booth, they share their interests and experiences and who they know on Maui. They want to hear what it is like to live on the island, and what they should do and see when they come.
Those who desperately sought products not available at the show - Maui wine, potato chips, macadamia nuts, etc. - were given the new Made In Maui brochure to find these products.
The show runs for nine days and is open for 12 or more hours each day. It is a lot of work, but it has been a phenomenal week that will benefit Maui and our small businesses now and into the future. It would not have been possible without the County of Maui's leadership and support, and we thank them, Office of Economic Development Director Teena Rasmussen and her team for this tremendous opportunity.
The flower show is packing in record numbers, according to CBS Philly, with more than 42,000 people attending the opening weekend (up 14,000 from last year) and attendance continues to be higher.
We appreciate all whom we have had the pleasure of meeting here and feel even more blessed to live and work on Maui. We hope they visit us at home soon.
* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.