Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Hilo made the international news recently with a “Crushing Asian car competition” headline. It seems strange for a business to attempt this gimick in a town where the majority of the people are of Asian origin.

What is an Asian versus American car these days anyway? Cars built in the US by American companies are assembled using parts from Asia. Toyota, Honda, and Huyndai all have plants in the US where Americans assemble Asian cars.

How then can one identify the nationality of a particular car? BuyAmerican websites have tried to help resolve the car nationality confusion by calculating the percentage of US-made versus Asian-made parts in each car's make and year. Today's cars are a confluence of global ingenuity and components that are assembled all over the globe.

Island Chevrolet's stunt with a Suburban outfitted with massive tires costing $20,000 blew a hydraulic hose when attempting to drive over a Honda Accord that went unscathed. The Suburban had to be repaired before it was finally able to drive over the Honda and a Hyundai Excel. We drove by the Chevy dealer the other day where the Suburban sits suspended over the two cars in an empty parking lot for all to see on Kilauea street. It is unclear if the headline that got so much coverage has resulted in sales for the car dealer.

If we could send a Hilo headline around the world, it would be about how wonderful it is to be in warm Hilo town nestled below snow covered Mauna Kea during this peaceful holiday week.

Mele Kalikimaka from Hilo, Hawaii!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Our grandparents use to talk about deflation during the 1930's but we haven't experienced it until now.

We have enjoyed unprecedented price drops for our Christmas shopping both online and at local retailers in Hilo, Hawaii. At Macys, clothes and house wares were marked down over 50%. We have never seen prices like this at Christmastime before. As we prepared to do our yearly online Christmas shopping for family on the mainland we were barraged with emails offering discounts of 20% on orders. We held off on the orders to see if the deals would get even better and they did. Some vendors threw in free shipping and others had an additional 10% off.

As we watched oil drop over $110 a barrel (a drop of 74%) our local premium gasoline prices plunged from $4.75 to $2.59 a gallon (a drop of 54%).

Everywhere we look prices are dropping. Used cars, for instance, have been high throughout Hawaii, but they have dropped to some of the lowest prices we have ever seen here. We estimate they are down about 50% from last year.

We believe this Christmas season deflation is just the beginning of a deflationary trend that will make living in Hilo much cheaper for years to come.

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.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


We have been looking forward to this year’s release of French Beaujolais Nouveau so we can celebrate the holidays in Hilo Hawaii like we would in Paris France. Nouveau wine is made from grapes just picked this autumn and is highly celebrated by wine lovers who want to get an early taste of the year’s vintage. The wine is bottled in France and shipped around the world on the third Thursday of November so it can be hard to find in remote places like Hilo.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Longs in downtown Hilo, we were able to preorder bottles of our favorite Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau wine. They ordered extra cases for others in town that are looking for the Nouveau and others that want try this extraordinary wine. It is popular as a holiday season wine and goes great with Turkey. We had our first taste of it last week and it was light and fruity apparently due to the sunny and cool weather in the Beaujolais region this September.

Hilo is amazing – here we are in the middle of the Pacific on the other side of the world from France and our wine arrived November 20th the same day the rest of the world received their shipments.