Shopping Spree

Authenticity is for sale at Mana Hawaii

By: Marty Wentzel

On a shopping spree through Waikiki, clients might naturally gravitate to designer marquees like Tiffany, Gucci, Chanel and Coach. But if industry leaders have their way, visitors will pay equal attention to stores in the area selling authentic Hawaiian and locally produced merchandise as well.

One such Waikiki venture is the new Mana Hawaii-Spirit of Hawaii Nei, a 1,600-square-foot store opening in mid-April. A collaboration between five companies Native Books, Na Mea Hawaii, Hula Supply Center, Ukulele House and The Lomi Shop its inventory covers a melange of made-in-

Hawaii merchandise, like hand-screened clothing, ipu (gourds), coconut massage oil, musical instruments, artwork and books about the language, history and nature of the islands.

“It’s vital to support businesses that feature island-based producers and artists, particularly Native Hawaiians,” said Mana Hawaii co-owner Maile Meyer, a leader on the Hawaiian arts and culture retail scene. “The more cultural products that are available to visitors, the more opportunity they have to deepen their understanding of what makes Hawaii such an extraordinary place.”

At the same time, Mana Hawaii presents clients with the opportunity to delve into the culture even deeper, right there in the shop, by spending time with local artists and taking part in enlightening activities.

“We want visitors to experience the essence of Hawaii the way locals would, by learning and doing,” Meyer said.

To that end, guests can hear about the ukulele’s place in the Hawaiian musical realm during strum-along lessons. They can visit the store during sessions on Hawaiian wellness and find out more about ancient healing practices like lomi lomi massage. Guests can weave hala leaves or polish kukui nuts while discovering the age-old significance of those natural products. They can also take part in talk-story sessions covering topics of interest to today’s islanders.

Mana Hawaii is located on the second floor of a retail complex, which is part of Outrigger Enterprises’ new Waikiki Beach Walk development.

“Mana Hawaii is very important to the mix of stores and restaurants at Waikiki Beach Walk,” said Outrigger Enterprises vice president of retail development and leasing Barbara Campbell. “It is in many ways the centerpiece of our complex, because it plays such an important role in giving visitors an authentic Hawaiian experience that can only be found here.”

Meyer likes to call Mana Hawaii a community resource.

“We offer access to the Hawaiian community for visitors who want to meet people and experience things that embody the true essence of Hawaii,” she said. “We want visitors to be able to celebrate Hawaii on a deeper level and feel a connection to our home.”

Meyer and her partners chose to open their store in Waikiki because of the area’s deep roots in history.

“Waikiki has always been a Hawaiian place,” she said. “That sense is restored when Hawaiians are physically present here once again.”

Given Waikiki’s ultra-expensive real estate, it’s notable that strong local brands and niche retailers have been included in the destination’s shopping mix.


As it continues to renovate and reinvent itself for visitors, Waikiki is offering clients a growing number of shops and settings for purchasing locally made products. Here are just a few of the possibilities:

Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts (Kapahulu Avenue) features thousands of island shirts, including vintage togs dating back to the 1930s. It also sells rare Hawaiian collectibles.

Hilo Hattie’s 29,000-square-foot flagship store (under construction in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center), its first Waikiki location, draws shoppers with its extensive line of aloha wear, local foods, books, music, jewelry and souvenirs.

The International Marketplace

(Kalakaua Avenue), a long-standing Waikiki shopping tradition, presents a casual maze-like outdoor setting for dozens of carts, shops and artisan stands, presided over by a century-old banyan tree.

The Little Hawaiian Craft Shop

(Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center) represents 100 local artisans producing everything from inexpensive trinkets to rare shell necklaces from the island of Niihau.

Mana HawaiiSpirit of Hawaii Nei (opening mid-April in Waikiki Beach Walk) combines the cultural insights and products of five retailers of island products, while providing in-store Hawaiian activities.

Maui Divers (Waikiki Beach Walk) promotes itself as the largest jewelry manufacturer in Hawaii, credited with the discovery of Hawaiian black coral and rare Hawaiian gold coral.

Philip Rickard (Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center) sells the works of 60 jewelers, craftsmen and technicians who manufacture exclusive gold and platinum Hawaiian jewelry.

Under the Koa Tree (Waikiki Beach Walk) specializes in photography, jewelry, glass works and stunning pieces of woodwork like bowls made of kukui (candlenut).