Stars Shine

Where can you find a light bulb that fights allergies? The Au’Ryte T-shirt? A 24-in-one ladder? A Santa doll made from one piece of string by an

Susan Sunderland
Friday - October 12, 2007
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Danita Ashbury shakes it as Tina Turner
Danita Ashbury shakes it as Tina Turner

Where can you find a light bulb that fights allergies? The Au’Ryte T-shirt?

A 24-in-one ladder? A Santa doll made from one piece of string by an architecture student in Thailand?

You won’t find these unique gift items at the mall.These “finds"with limited production and cottage-industry cache can only be found at the 43rd annual Holiday Food & New Products Show this weekend, Oct. 12-14, at Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.

The show combines two of our great obsessions - food and shopping.Best of all,the vendors are your neighbors, who have nurtured creative products with personal pride and aloha. Like Shop Toast’s soda bottles filled with sweet confection favors. Or Ambrosia Catering’s grilled miso chicken with peanut sauce.

Let all the mire of international designer labels and national brands with high-powered marketing melt away.Get back to down-home mercantilism, where friends buy from friends and spark the entrepreneurial spirit. There’s something organic and poetic about that.

Expositions like the Holiday Food & New Products Show remind us that 90 percent of Hawaii’s businesses are small. These are companies of less than 100 employees and probably family units. Their products defy mass production,giving them distinction in the marketplace.Like buying limited editions.

Dan Meisner and Joe Messina buzz as the Blues Brothers
Dan Meisner and Joe Messina buzz as the Blues Brothers

Thus these big-top expositions are marketing incubators for emerging brands and product testing. Be first on your block to have their wares. Like handmade seat covers from Royal Hawaiian, or gourmet teas and teapots from Lamscape, or fruit bouquets from Edible Arrangements.

It’s fitting that management of this event is made up of individuals who come from small-business backgrounds themselves. Through dedication and entrepreneurial drive, they have built dynamic empires that now run the biggest and best shows in town. But they started as individual or mom-andpop ventures.

The Holiday Food & New Products Show is owned and operated by Pacific Expos in partnership with Tihati Productions. The people behind the scenes are folks you know: Roy Tokujo, owner of Cove Entertainment and Pacific Expos; Jack and Cha Thompson, principals of Tihati Productions; and Yemun Chung, well-known talent management and events impresario.

For Tihati Productions, this is a foray into a largely community-based event, after 38 years of focusing on visitor-dominant shows.

“The vendors are the stars of the show,” says Cha Thompson, the show’s spokeswoman. “Our entire family is involved in supporting the 130-plus exhibitors, and it’s one big ohana.”

Gary Moore gets all 'Tutti Frutti' as Little Richard
Gary Moore gets all ‘Tutti Frutti’ as Little Richard

One of the largest and longest-running product fairs, the Holiday Food & New Products Show has been staged for more than four decades. As any event promoter can tell you, keeping things fresh and revitalized year after year is a challenge. Bringing in Tihati’s “new eyes and fresh perspective"on an annual tradition was important. So in some ways, the show is reinventing itself and tweaking things to make it productive and profitable for participants.

For instance, there are no stage shows to compete with the action on the sales floor.Yes, there will be celebrities there, but they will be meeting the public on a cordial, island-style level.

Here’s a chance to get up-close and personal with cookie mogul Wally Amos (Friday-Saturday), Honolulu Star-Bulletin food editor-cookbook author Betty Shimabukuro (Friday 6 p.m.), concert promoter and MidWeek columnist Tom Moffatt (Saturday, 1 p.m.), recording artist Tiffany Thurston (Sunday,2 p.m.),and UH coach June Jones (Sunday, 1 p.m.).

This will be coach Jones’first book signing of just-released Hawaii Warrior Football: A Story of Faith, Hope and Redemption, written by J. David Miller.


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