Finding Exceptional Home Made Goods On a Pacific Island

It’s like the ‘little engine that could’ kind of craft fairs.

I’ve been to several very large product ‘fairs’ at the Blaisdell Center in the past three months trying to get a handle on what is out there for purchase in a non-traditional selling site. While most visitors to Hawaii make shopping outings to the traditional venues, I’ve found an amazing amount of very appealing products at these local events. And what surprised me the most was the variety I found. There was some overlap of displays, but basically the shows showcased different products, or at least different makers of similar products, most hand crafted in the islands by inpiduals or small business owners who rely on this outlet for sales and exposure. In fact, the term “Made in Hawaii” is strictly defined and regulated by State law so you are assured of a unique product.

What caught my eye:

An adorable and very usable Ni Au Broom and whisk brush. Hand made by Coconut Connections, the materials come from the coconut and bamboo trees. I carried these around with me and bonked just about everyone around me with them, but in return I got only compliments on them!

Ceramic poi pounders, cups, and ipu in desk size or smaller versions that will hang from a tree. I was especially charmed by the miniature versions.

Here’s an imaginative locally originated and driven enterprise dreamed up by Ryan Ozawa ( @hawaii & popular “Lost” blogger) and Valentine Valdez (@valdezign & local graphic designer): Kukui High School memorabilia. Mentioned in the new hit TV series Hawaii Five-0, it’s not a real school but these crafters have made it ‘real’ by offering authentic merchandise that shows fun school spirit. Go Nuts!

Considering the smallness of our island, when 35,000 people turn out to attend one of these shows, I’d take that as a favorable endorsement! I do see tourists in the crowd though, showing their obvious delight at finding products they want to take back with them. Before you come for a visit, do an internet search for ‘Blaisdell Center’, ‘Hawaii craft fair calendar’, or ‘island arts/food expo’, and include the month/year you will be here. There are so many of these events going on that it’s very likely something will be happening during your visit, and located within bus or walking distance. I also guarantee you will not find the standard merchandise that is usually seen in mainland craft fairs. Hawaii’s uniqueness extends itself into its crafts. The last two pieces of jewelry I purchased at a show and sent home were fought over at the dinner table by every female in attendance. So make someone really happy, attend a show, purchase, and then just sit back and watch!