When the constant rains of more than 40 days kept tourists from lathering on suntan lotion in March, Certified Promotional Products vice president of sales and marketing Ronna Rickard stood on the corner of Kalakaua and Lewers and distributed 1,500 free T-shirts.
“At first, tourists asked us, ‘What are you trying to sell?’” says Rickard, pictured here holding a T-shirt with Nadine Grace (left) and Erma Teves (right). “We told them it’s free and we want to say sorry for the rain. We had a couple who gave us huge hugs, and one woman cried. Another woman said, ‘This really brought sunshine to my stay.’”
Rickard notes that some people have saved their entire life for a trip to Hawaii and that they must have been disappointed with the weather.
The T-shirts are printed with a petroglyph of the sun and the words “Mahalo for visiting our beautiful Hawaii. Sorry for the Rain. Kipa Hou Mai (Come Visit Again). Certified Hawaiian Inc. is a small business that cares about your impression of our state. Please accept this shirt as a gesture of our appreciation and Aloha.”
Rickard’s boss, Scott Dezzani, pitched in at the giveaway, held 4-6 p.m. March 31 with his entire family - pediatrician wife, Marni, and their two sons, ages 2 and 4. Rickard adds that the excitement and the appreciation of the tourists was so overwhelmingly positive that they decided to bring down another truckload of T-shirts to give away the next day, April 1, at the same time and place.
Certified Hawaiian, a T-shirt company that’s been around for 23 years and has 18 employees, estimates the cost of giving away 1,500 shirts at about $30,000. Rickard works for Certified Promotional Products, its sister company, which manufactures more than 70,000 items including bumper stickers, lanyards, clocks, teddy bears and cups. Rickard, a Campbell High School graduate, has been with the company for two years. Before she joined this company, she worked in the health care insurance industry. The single parent of 15-year-old son Drake, a Kamehameha student, she returned to Hawaii in 1992 after living in California for 10 years.
Rickard is exuberant about the contribution she and her company were able to make to Island visitors.
“It was good for us as a team, and we got a really good feeling,” she says. “We are a small business that appreciates that there are people visiting Hawaii from all walks of life and so many different places.”
- Linda Dela Cruz
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