Thursday, December 11, 2008


The arrival of the Christmas season and our start of gift shopping has us thinking about unique shops in Hilo. Here are a few of the stores in Hilo that we think stand out because of their products and overall specialness. Let us know if we missed your favorites so we can add them to our list.

Sig Zane has a store in downtown Hilo that shows off his unique cloth designs of Hawaiian plants and flowers in shirts, dresses, and bags. Sig, a native of Oʼahu, moved to Hilo in the 1970ʼs. He studied hula under the renowned teacher Edith Kanaka'ole and her daughters, Nalani Kanaka'ole and Pua Kanahele. He learned about the plants of Hawaii and their uses as a part of his hula immersion and married Nalani after which he created his first Sig Zane's designs. His designs are used by hula dancers and have expanded to become the desired dress-up clothing of choice in Hilo and by those that can appreciate his Hawaiian designs as different and special from the standard Aloha wear.
Walking into Sig Zaneʼs Hilo store, the colors and set up feels calming and inviting, similar to the feeling his Hawaiian designs invoke. Our purchase was lovingly packaged and put into a beautiful bag creating an overall wonderful experience.

Big Island Candies opened in the 1970ʼs in Hilo to create cookies and macadamia nut candies using only Hawaii-grown macadamia nuts, Kona coffee, island eggs, real butter and high-grade chocolate. The delicious cookies are becoming known around the world. The cookies and candies are packaged in gorgeous containers and boxes with careful attention to the color and decoration. Each cookie is individually wrapped keeping them fresh and sanitary

The Hilo store is located in the factory which allows you to watch the cookies and candies being made through huge glass panes. When you visit the store, you are greeted at the door with a welcoming hostess and offered free samples of cookies and candies and Kona coffee making it a warm and delicious shopping experience.

Hilo Guitars and ukuleles shop is in downtown Hilo and has an incredible collection of Hawaiian made ukuleles and guitars as well as hand crafted guitars from the mainland. The little store which caters to the many local musicians, who often hang out there, was started by Ken Cameron, a musician from Scotland. Ken also carries affordable instruments for new musicians and there are music classes for students and beginners in his shop. Whenever we go to the store, we often find a group of musicians talking animatedly about their upcoming gig or jamming.

Tokunagaʼs is an indispensible fishing store tucked away in Hilo since the 1920ʼs. The shop is filled with things you can’t live without on an island like heavy grade rash guards for winter swimming, sun protection hats, fins, wetsuits, and every kind of fishing rod for every type of fishing. If you want to know about fishing, it is the place to go.

Hilo has some really wonderful museum stores. Lymanʼs museum and the ʽImiloa Astronomy Center both have great little shops filled with special topic books, calendars, toys, jewelry, pens, and posters. Both the stores are open to the public without having to pay admission.


Victoria Hokulani said...

Aloha my Hilo blogger comradz! What a great post about Hilo's unique business environment! It is so important to give our wonderful business the attention they so deserve. Now more than ever it is of the highest priority that we support them in every way we can. I recently did a similar article on my blog about supporting local business with my post called "Santa Pause and the End of Sport Shopping". I mentioned Sig Zane as well as his son who operates "The Cutlery". Your post compliments that one but goes further with more background.
Another great store that needs support especially with the bankruptcy and imminent dissolution of KB Toys is Village Toy Shop. The sole proprietor started out in Kea'au Village Market and then moved to Waianuenue near Blaines. She carries well made and educational toys that spark imagination and creativity. I do my best to drop as many Christmas dollars as I can in her shop.
With so many impending bankruptcies of Big Retailers, soon we may have no other options but to support our local biz. Wow, maybe that would be A GOOD THING!

Anonymous said...

I MADE A VIDEO THAT SHOWS EVEN MORE OF WHAT IS GREAT ABOUT HILO. They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, well then I'm about to drop about 67,000 words ON YOU!!

Please check out this Hilo slideshow.
post it on your site.. whatever you like!

Mahalo for your Kokua!

Anonymous said...

I love what you have shown. So refreshing to see unique stores.

Anonymous said...

one of our favorite and unique stores in hilo is Katmandu, it's located on Waianuenue Ave mauka (just up the street) from Cronies. it carries unique items from Nepal from singing bowls to large hand painted chests to elaborate hand carved teak pieces layered in gold to large rugs. if you have never been there it is a true find in the heart of hilo!