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Thread: Ukulele Lab in Honolulu

  1. #1
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    Default Ukulele Lab in Honolulu

    I was recently looking at the Ukulele Lab FB page and saw that they have a lot of text in Japanese. I know they are based in Honolulu but have not heard many peeps talk about them here on the UU forum. So, why is that? Are they mainly catering to the Asian tourist market? They seem to carry mainly Kamaka and Koaloha, not enough space or interest in other makers, I wonder. No criticism meant here, I was just curious to know more from those who know more than me.
    Klos Tenor (carbon fibre)
    Mya Moe Tenor (myrtle)
    Kamaka Tenor (koa)
    Lone Tree Tenor (driftwood red cedar, black cherry, western maple)

  2. #2
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    The locals try to avoid Waikiki most of the time: difficult to park, crowded and special prices (i.e., high prices) for international travelers with fat wallets.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by fretie View Post
    I was recently looking at the Ukulele Lab FB page and saw that they have a lot of text in Japanese. I know they are based in Honolulu but have not heard many peeps talk about them here on the UU forum. So, why is that?
    IMO other uke dealers get more coverage because of video podcasts, the way they do their "sound samples" (essentially mini-concerts from Kalei/Corey) & wider range of price points. In the case of HMS, their bricks & mortar shops aren't in HNL/Waikiki, so likely fewer Japanese-speaking foot traffic. And if there are Corey speaks Japanese, I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by fretie View Post
    Are they mainly catering to the Asian tourist market? They seem to carry mainly Kamaka and Koaloha, not enough space or interest in other makers, I wonder. No criticism meant here, I was just curious to know more from those who know more than me.
    If one's customers don't speak/read your language, it'd be in one's best interest to speak/write theirs. HNL is "just" a 7+ hour flight from Tokyo.

    Japanese tourism is significant & distinct enough that it gets its own "category", like Canada, eh? ;-). Official Hawaii visitor stats are broken down into U.S. West, U.S. East, Canada, Japan & "All Other International Markets".

    Writing from my limited experience w/ Hawaii.
    Years ago, I was the only non-Japanese person in a shuttle van in Waikiki in Honolulu, besides the driver/guide. The blonde surfer-dude-driver-guide spoke to us passengers only in Japanese... probably because I probably blended in, appearance-wise, LOL. Besides the guide, I think I was the only fluent English speaker. And can't speak/read Japanese...

    Waikiki is as vacation-touristy as it gets in Honolulu, & Honolulu is as touristy as it gets for Hawaii... & Hawaii is as (arguably) touristy (& conference-y) as it gets for the US. Vacationers spend a lot of disposable income & vacationers from Japan consistently (likely over decades) have spent the most, as a demographic. Very generally speaking, the demographic that can afford a HNL/Waikiki vacay are likely going to be the pool who can go for a big "K" brand. There's something like 5 ukulele shops just in Waikiki, not counting the one inside the Hilton Hawaiian Village complex, which might even get enough sales just from HHV guests alone. Most visitors from Japan stay on Oahu. Japan also has a deeper/longer history w/ Hawaii & luthier-grade musical instruments than other Asian countries.

    Tourism from China, while very, very significant in recent years ("newer" money, relative to Japan), might be more variable (especially nowadays... travel warnings, trade war/presidential politics, etc). Also, generally speaking, there's cultural differences (what is purchased) between tourists from the two different countries, generally speaking.

    A very loose analogy could be Japanese vacationers in Waikiki are kinda sorta like residents of Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwan-to-a-lesser-degree-descent, in Richmond BC. In my opinion & observation...
    Last edited by Wukulele; 10-05-2019 at 06:14 AM.
    keeping an eye out for a very special pre-owned concert....

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wukulele View Post
    IMO other uke dealers get more coverage because of video podcasts, the way they do their "sound samples" (essentially mini-concerts from Kalei/Corey) & wider range of price points. In the case of HMS, their bricks & mortar shops aren't in HNL/Waikiki, so likely fewer Japanese-speaking foot traffic. And if there are Corey speaks Japanese, I think.



    If one's customers don't speak/read your language, it'd be in one's best interest to speak/write theirs. HNL is "just" a 7+ hour flight from Tokyo.

    Japanese tourism is significant & distinct enough that it gets its own "category", like Canada, eh? ;-). Official Hawaii visitor stats are broken down into U.S. West, U.S. East, Canada, Japan & "All Other International Markets".

    Writing from my limited experience w/ Hawaii.
    Years ago, I was the only non-Japanese person in a shuttle van in Waikiki in Honolulu, besides the driver/guide. The blonde surfer-dude-driver-guide spoke to us passengers only in Japanese... probably because I probably blended in, appearance-wise, LOL. Besides the guide, I think I was the only fluent English speaker. And can't speak/read Japanese...

    Waikiki is as vacation-touristy as it gets in Honolulu, & Honolulu is as touristy as it gets for Hawaii... & Hawaii is as (arguably) touristy (& conference-y) as it gets for the US. Vacationers spend a lot of disposable income & vacationers from Japan consistently (likely over decades) have spent the most, as a demographic. Very generally speaking, the demographic that can afford a HNL/Waikiki vacay are likely going to be the pool who can go for a big "K" brand. There's something like 5 ukulele shops just in Waikiki, not counting the one inside the Hilton Hawaiian Village complex, which might even get enough sales just from HHV guests alone. Most visitors from Japan stay on Oahu. Japan also has a deeper/longer history w/ Hawaii & luthier-grade musical instruments than other Asian countries.

    Tourism from China, while very, very significant in recent years ("newer" money, relative to Japan), might be more variable (especially nowadays... travel warnings, trade war/presidential politics, etc). Also, generally speaking, there's cultural differences (what is purchased) between tourists from the two different countries, generally speaking.

    A very loose analogy could be Japanese vacationers in Waikiki are kinda sorta like residents of Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwan-to-a-lesser-degree-descent, in Richmond BC. In my opinion & observation...
    Las Vegas is as touristy and Conferency as it gets in the US. It is a tourist heaven or hell, depending on your outlook, but it's sole point of existence is tourism and conferences, and the entire city is built as a tourist attraction.

  5. #5
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    My experience with Ukulele Lab has been through email conversations with Isaac (the owner?). Those conversations have been good and he has replied quickly to my questions. He appears to have a good relationship with the K brands, KoAloha in particular. He often has custom KoAloha models listed on his website.
    My ukulele family.....
    KoAloha Koa concert - circa 2006 (Living Waters)
    aNueNue Moon Bird concert - Spruce & Rosewood - 2018 (Blackwater)
    Blackbird Clara - 2019 (Oasis Bright)
    Cocobolo concert - 2019 (Worth Brown)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RafterGirl View Post
    My experience with Ukulele Lab has been through email conversations with Isaac (the owner?). Those conversations have been good and he has replied quickly to my questions. He appears to have a good relationship with the K brands, KoAloha in particular. He often has custom KoAloha models listed on his website.
    Some interesting discussion here but RafterGirl your comments are most helpful to me as I haven’t heard anyone mention any exchanges that they have had with the UkeLab prior to this hence my curiosity about the vibe of that Hawaiian uke store.
    Klos Tenor (carbon fibre)
    Mya Moe Tenor (myrtle)
    Kamaka Tenor (koa)
    Lone Tree Tenor (driftwood red cedar, black cherry, western maple)

  7. #7
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    Just checked, Ukulele Lab's website has no Japanese text on it.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    Just checked, Ukulele Lab's website has no Japanese text on it.
    ...not the website, as mentioned in my original post at the beginning of this thread...but their FB page.
    Klos Tenor (carbon fibre)
    Mya Moe Tenor (myrtle)
    Kamaka Tenor (koa)
    Lone Tree Tenor (driftwood red cedar, black cherry, western maple)

  9. #9
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    I was on Oahu last year and visited several ukulele stores including a few in Waikiki. I found them very well stocked with cool high end ukes at high prices. While I was mainly browsing I also noticed Japanese tourists who actually bought these ukes. However I also scored a great white label Lili'u for what I considered a good price in Waikiki.

  10. #10
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    So, overall, it seems that most locals don’t have much experience of the UkeLab even though there’s some good instruments to be found there. It appears that this is probably due to the ‘Lab’s location it being more of a destination for tourists seeking a good quality Hawaiian ukulele.
    Klos Tenor (carbon fibre)
    Mya Moe Tenor (myrtle)
    Kamaka Tenor (koa)
    Lone Tree Tenor (driftwood red cedar, black cherry, western maple)

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