If you’ve ever wandered into a gift shop in any tourist town, I’m sure you know that the prices will blow your mind. $6 bottles of water, $300 beach cover ups, $35 T-shirts… it’s nuts! Well Hawaii is no different. All of Waikiki, hotel gifts shops, North Shore boutiques are insanely pricey. After spending a thousand dollars on your plane ticket, you know you need to shop like a local and get your souvenir swag at the Swap Meet!
The swap meet (or swamp meet as my husband calls it) is set up in the parking lot around Aloha Stadium. Vendors rent tents and display all sorts of trinkets; from ukuleles to pearls, for sale. Admission is a dollar and includes parking.
Mike and I have been going fairly regularly, trying to get our Christmas shopping done. We’ve actually made acquaintances with some of the vendors and have some favorite booths. Not to mention it is a pretty good work out; I’m guessing it’s about a mile around the stadium. What do we buy there? Yesterday was a pretty light shopping day, we picked up a few last minute gifts and some treats for ourselves: snacks from Lins (crackseed-look it up), a sea glass, sterling silver and silk cord necklace from our favorite (and the most beautifully decorated booth there) Renee Becht (check out her etsy store at email@example.com), and a couple of air plants set in driftwood from a local vendor (local people can rent space on Sundays to sell whatever they have on hand: like garage sale items, homemade crafts or plants).
Some vendors have told us that the most popular items are T-shirts, beach towels and other souvenir type items. But seriously? Why not take home a hand carved bone shark or a beautiful, handmade piece of jewelry instead? Either way, if you do your shopping at the swap meet you are helping to support someone’s small business rather than putting more money into the big hotel chains coffers. And, if you know me, you know I’m all about supporting small businesses! So, whether you live here on Oahu or just visiting, come on down to Aloha Stadium Saturday, Sunday or Wednesday, and pick up some super cool swag.