I enjoy shopping in Waikiki. However, it's not the high end stores that I enjoy the most, but rather the Hawaii themed and locally owned shops as well as the weekend craft and art fairs.
It's no surprise then that my favorite store in the new Waikiki Beach Walk is a store called Mana Hawaiʻi - the Spirit of Hawaiʻi Nei. It's unlike any other store I've ever seen in the islands and represents a unique experiment which provides small local businesses the chance to compete and present their products alongside the better known (and often expensive) shops in Waikiki.
In pure business terms Mana Hawaiʻi is an "economic incubator project made possible through the collaboration of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Outrigger Enterprises, Kaulana Corporation, Enterprise Honolulu, and operating partner Kauhale LLC." Now that's a mouthful!
In simpler language Mana Hawaiʻi is home to five previously existing local businesses that share 1,600 square feet of prime Waikiki real estate as part of Outrigger's Waikiki Beach Walk project.
Mana Hawaiʻi thus offers Waikiki Beach Walk a Hawaiian owned, Hawaiian operated and Hawaiian value based retail tenant. The entities that make up Mana Hawaiʻi are:
The Original Hawaiian TradersOperated by Sylvia and Michael Kopp, The Original Hawaiian Traders, also known as Hula Supply Center, provides the hula population worldwide with everything from handcrafted hula implements designed and made by Mike, to Everlasting Floral Leis, Tahitian Bark skirts and Hawaiian kapa fibers and fashions by Sylvia.
The Lomi Shop VaʻaOperated by Kaʻuhane and Maile Lee, "The Lomi Shop Vaʻa crew of health practitioners will provide simple Hawaiian lomilomi massage treatments, including their famous 10 and 20 minute foot lomi massage; a soothing relief for the feet of walkers and shoppers in Waikiki" says owner Kaʻuhane Lee. "The core of their healing practice is to listen to the needs of your body and then provide native healing remedies that call forward the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, and Hawaiian touch." They also sell authentic Polynesian health products and offer cultural & spiritual guidance & training.
Operated by Kealoha Manaku and Maile Meyer, Native Books is well known to frequent visitors from its other locations at the Ward Warehouse and Hilton Hawaiian Village. They are, quite simply, the best source for books, music and videos about Hawaii. Their materials cover a complete range of topics from Hawaiian language, culture, hula and chant, to local literature, children's stories, and natural history. In addition, Native Books' contribution will be a selection of culturally sensitive, historically accurate books and educational materials about Hawaii, from a strong group of local publishers.
ʻUkulele HouseOperated by Ron and Daniel Fujikake, ʻUkulele House features Hawaii's largest collection of ʻukulele and ʻukulele accessories to suit everyone's needs and desires. "We've made a point to gather ʻukulele from every local ʻukulele maker we could find, from every Island. In some cases that's buying one or two ʻukulele from someone, but it's a start" says Daniel Fujikake of ʻUkulele House.
Na Mea HawaiʻiOperated by Ivan Loui Kwan and Maile Meyer, Na Mea Hawaiʻi focuses on supporting Hawaiian and local producers by carrying unique made-in-Hawaii products from across the Hawaiian Islands.
As brilliant as this concept is, it's the first time it's been done in Waikiki. It is, however, a natural outgrowth of the Hawaiian concept of ʻohana or extended family. Just as locals often make use of their extended families to support each other, especially in these difficult economic times in the islands, so does Mana Hawaiʻi allow a group of individual businesses to work together in one prime retail location where none of them could individually afford to locate.
Between the five businesses represented, there is over 100 years of collective experience in running businesses in Hawaii. The businesses have made a commitment to keeping the focus of the products in the store local and Hawaiian made.
Over 500 different local artists and producers are contributing products to the store, from all Islands. You'll find everything from clothing, fine art, jewelry, feather, stone, bone and wood items, to lotions, pillows, ʻukulele and hula implements.
Regular cultural programming will be offered at Waikiki Beach Walk and at the Mana Hawaiʻi store. This programming will include Hawaiian language classes, ʻukulele playing, and discussions about current issues in Hawaii, as well as talks on health and wellness. This mix of products along with cultural programming is meant to offer the community a gathering place and a resource rather than just another retail venue.
I stopped in Mana Hawaiʻi three times in three days and bought a number of books and some lovely tapa patterned fabric to make a window seat. I've never before seen fabric for sale in Waikiki. What a delight!
So, next time you're in Waikiki, be sure to stop by Mana Hawaiʻi on the second level of the new Waikiki Beach Walk.