Antiques such as vintage aloha shirts and
an Aloha Boulevard sign can be found
at Plantation Memories.
When your clients walk through the open doors of Plantation
Memories Antiques, in funky little Hilo town on the Big Island of
Hawaii, they’ll likely notice two things. Proprietor Billy
Perreira, in jeans and a T-shirt, is probably sitting at the table
by the window reading the paper. And all around him is a shop
brimming with authentic Hawaii memorabilia.
It’s hard to tell which is more intriguing.
“I’ve always wheeled and dealed, and I love antiques,” said
Perreira, who was raised on the Big Island. “And I care about what
I sell.” That’s clear from looking
around his shop. This is no Hilo Hattie outlet full of shiny
tourist trinkets. Instead you find the real deal: cultural,
domestic and business artifacts from Hawaii life vintage aloha
shirts, a piece of lava rock carved with two sensuous hula girls, a
carved wood pineapple cigarette lighter, assorted bottles, a set of
plates from Iolani Palace, a whale vertebra, old books like
“Geography of the Hawaiian Islands” (1908), a Betty Boop hula girl
medallion, even a 1968 poster of the real Hilo Hattie playing her
ukulele. Prices range from a few dollars to much more.
Much of Perreira’s collection comes from the sugar plantation
era of the early 20th century.
“I like the funky hand-made plantation-era stuff,” he said. “A
lot of it was made by the neighborhood carpenter.”
He points out a cabinet with two screen doors, saying it’s a
“food safe,” which folks used before refrigerators.
Billy Perreira, owner, outside his shop in
As Perreira cleans his glasses on an aloha shirt hanging on the
rack, he happily confesses his passion for old business signs. The
writing is literally on the walls: Kilauea Hotel, Puna Tavern,
Block Warden, Ice Not Fit for Human Consumption.
“Signs find me,” he said.
Maybe so, but Perreira clearly has the touch. Like when he was
poking around an old house in the Big Island’s Kohala District. He
noticed a step that had a metal frame around it, and he knew what
that might mean. He turned the step over and, sure enough, it was a
sign in English and Japanese: “Midwife, Misa Yamanaka.”
The house belonged to Yamanaka-san’s grandson, whom she had
delivered. Perreira has the sign in his shop now.
“My friend calls me a time traveler,” he said. “I get the feel
of a time from these things. It’s like reading a book.”
When he senses that a customer is also a traveler, Perreira
“I practically give it to them then,” he said.
179 Kilauea Ave. Hilo, HI 96720