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Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, November 27, 2000

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Leilani Zito, left, and Tiana Montgomery,
both age 6, have an armful of stuffed animals
from Honolulu Zootique.

Shop zone Waikiki

This tourist Mecca
has more than just
kitschy trinkets

By Cynthia Oi

LOCAL people generally consider Waikiki tourist turf where stores charge big bucks for cheesy stuff or really big bucks for designer goods. But beyond the T-shirt kiosks and junky jewelry stalls, beyond the sterile intimidation of the if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it boutiques, there are interesting retailers offering unique items that won't put in you the poor house.

Shopping in Waikiki also can be an adventure. You can stroll the 1.5 miles or so of beachfront and pop into stores along the way. Or you can drive and park along the side streets (bring quarters to feed meters) or along the Ala Wai (for free). Some stores listed here have parking, but you may have to pay.

Begin this shopping spree at the Ewa end of Waikiki and work your way Diamond Head.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Garakuta-Do and Old Noritake Collection showcases
antiques from Japan.

Garakuta-Do and Old Noritake Collection

From the outside, Garakuta-Do looks like a small space, but inside, one room leads to another and to yet another, all of them filled with Japanese antiques. It's like being in a museum.

While many of the items are expensive as you would guess precious antiques would be, owner Wataru Harada also carries smaller pieces, just as finely crafted, that are reasonable. Cookie stencils and molds that go for about $20 are intricately carved from hardwoods. Hundreds of antique obis (sashes worn with kimonos) fill two walls with rich, colorful fabric. They dress up a plain dress or pant outfit, and double as table runners, wall decorations or drapings. Many of the obis are priced for as little as $15; others run from $30 to $50.

By Ronen Zilberman Star-Bulletin
Purses of reed, silver and golden metal and
tie-handle bags of silk and sari and obi
fabric ($25 to $130).

Garakuta-Do also has an extensive collection of tansu and other furniture, Imari ware, vases and pottery, brass work, prints, carved transoms and screens -- an inventory of thousands of pieces.

Next door to the antique shop, Harada has set up a gallery of Noritake porcelain china. Made between 1891 and 1910 chiefly for export to the United States, the pieces and designs reflect Western culture of the period, Harada said. Gleaming lusterware in peaches and greens, vegetable plates, gold-plated salt and spice dishes, clever tea and snack sets and ornaments fill the shelves. Prices range from $25 to $1,000.

1833 Kalakaua Ave., at Ala Wai. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays. Parking free for first hour, validation for additional time, lot entrance on Ala Wai. Phone: 955-2099.


A genteel air engulfs this shop, likely because its original owners were society ladies, as women of certain means and position were labeled in the mid-20th century. An impeccable Allie MacMillan presides as manager, representing designer Phyllis Spalding, the remaining member of the founding trio that included the late Clare Boothe Luce, who was a diplomat and Washington power, and Cobey Black, a writer.

MacMillan greets each customer warmly, as if expecting them for afternoon tea. She is surrounded by tasteful and artful clothing, jewelry, scarves, purses, bags and objet d'art.

Dresses, banker's coats, aloha shirts, blouses and slacks, priced from about $80, are either creations by island designers or made to Spalding's specifications in Asia. Necklaces and bracelets abound, from delicate illusion pearls (about $35 to $200) to chunky jade and amber. There are sculptural purses of reed, silver and golden metal and clever tie-handle bags of silk and sari and obi fabric ($25 to $130). Decorative pieces include Thai silk picture frames ($20 to $45), vases, antique plates and Balinese puppets.

The intimate space holds so many things that a shopper must be methodical in surveying all that's there, and MacMillan, knowledgeable and entertaining, will graciously show them off.

Halekulani Hotel, 2199 Kalia Road. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, (closed noon to 1 p.m. for lunch). Free valet parking with validation, $2.50 without validation. Phone: 922-7766.


To find this place, look for the pink flamingos in the second-floor window. A stairway beneath leads to this second-floor cubicle where used and vintage clothing jam the racks in the middle of the store. Along the walls, shelves and cabinets are chock-a-block with kitschy products from the 1950s to the '70s, including Bee Gees LPs and plastic ukuleles.

Spark's customers are primarily visitors from Japan, said manager Yukihiko Hase, but locals also shop there for denim jackets, jeans, shirts, tops and sweaters. There are wing-collared "Charlie's Angels" blouses, Twiggy shifts in psychedelic limes and pinks, "Saturday Night Fever" stretch polyester shirts and Kiyomi of Hawaii appliqued tops. Cotton tunics from India Imports, mini dresses from the Ritz and Tlaquepaque Mexican shirts, rich with embroidery, recall the period of peace and love. Most of these go for about $30.

Collectibles include wooden skateboards with real skate wheels, a big grouping of Zippo lighters and plastic toys. Some of them are for sale, others part of store owner's collection. From the ceiling hang groovy printed hats, mobiles and signs.

2244 Kalakaua Ave, #200A, between Royal Hawaiian and Seaside avenues. Open 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily. No parking. Phone: 923-1950.

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Funny Laurent owner Fusami Laurent.

Funny Laurent

This shop is the antithesis of Waikiki T-shirt tawdry. No wrestling hangers from packed racks or pulling things from unwieldy piles. At Funny Laurent, you can see every dress just by standing in the middle of the polished wood floor and pivoting. Despite the name, the store has no connection with Yves Saint Laurent. In fact, everything in the store is made by designer Hanae Mori.

The minimalist interior theme -- no furnishings except for a clerk's counter and sprays of silk flowers in baskets -- extends to the offerings: six or seven styles in six or seven fabrics. But you won't find these dresses anywhere else in the world, said sales representative Akiko Shimo. They are sold exclusively in Hawaii, exclusively at Funny Laurent. Prices reflect that; pieces range from $250 to $370. Colors range from sunny yellow prints to more subdued blue-grays. The dresses are feminine and whimsical, simple at first glance, complex in the handiwork.

Now, back to the store's name. The owner is Fusami Laurent, and she likes to have fun, Shimo said. Hence, Funny Laurent is perfectly logical.

334 Seaside Ave., suite 103, across Waikiki I and II theaters. Open 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. No parking. Phone: 922-0152.


If you're looking for a teddy bear wearing an aloha shirt, don't shop here. The Zootique is into realism and the stuffed animals don't sport flower lei or hula skirts.

Not that this isn't a fun place. Zootique showcases thousands of animal-related products that are cunning as well as educational. Besides the stuffed animals (about $6 to $40), there are books, calendars, puzzles, fanciful umbrellas, kites, hats, photo albums, games, CDs and videos, soaps and scents, bead and silver jewelry and many home decorating items. Part of the profits go to maintaining the zoo.

The Honolulu Zoological Society (926-3191) also offers family passes for unlimited access to the animals for a year. A basic pass is $25, premium pass $35, single, $25, and senior, $20. Animal adoptions also are available.

Honolulu Zoo, Kalakaua and Kapahulu avenues. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. No admission fee for shop. Metered parking lot. Phone: 924-0885.

Waikiki Aquarium

The Aquarium gift shop carries lots of fishy toys and stuff for kids, but adults will find many treasures, too, especially decorative items for the home. Stunning glassware (from $6 to $15), ceramic trivets ($22), mugs ($10), plates, coasters, wind chimes, shower curtains ($32), tiny cloisonne teapots ($16-$20) and beautiful bedspreads and tableclothes ($27) are scattered through the store. Whale- and dolphin-shaped chocolate macadamia nut candies are a bargain at $5 a box. All sale profits go to maintain the aquarium.

Another gift idea are memberships, costing from $25 to $75, that allow free admission, discounts to 125 aquariums and zoos around the country, a 20 percent discount at the shop, a newsletter, members' only events and other benefits.

2777 Kalakaua Ave., Open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, except Christmas. No admission fee for shop. Free parking in front. Phone: 923-9741.


Take a break

After a morning of shopping, you'll want some good cheap eats, which you will find at the snack shop in the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel in front of San Souci beach. The snack shop is tucked into the one-story building on the Ewa side of the hotel. The menu features fat, tasty sandwiches ($3.50 to $4.50), homemade soups ($2), a daily plate lunch special ($5.50) and baked goods ($1 to $1.25), such as pound cake, apple turnovers and bread pudding ($1 to $1.25). The chili is substantial and delicious and can be had three ways: chili bowl with rice ($2.60), chili plate with rice ($3.35) or chili plate with hot dog ($4.25). There are shakes and sundaes (about $3.50) and a good lemonade. You can eat at the outdoor tables, the beach or in Kapiolani Park.

Bullet Next week: Kaimuki.

Bullet Last week: Harbor Center.

Shop Zone runs Mondays through Dec. 18, suggesting options for intrepid holiday gift-buyers. Shop Zone focuses on a varied collection of stores in a neighborhood, tells you where to park and where to take a break.

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