This recent holiday season proved to be another exceptionally busy shopping period. It also served as an important time to “buy local” with more people seeking out unique, handmade, or sustainable gifts, especially as supply chain issues rage worldwide. Local retailers are not only critical to the economy, but they play a significant role in cultivating a tight-knit sense of community. Mom-and-pop shops are often the places where both residents and travelers experience the true meaning of the aloha spirit.
As the pandemic continues into a new year, Hawaii businesses need our support more than ever. Looking ahead towards upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, new school years, and special occasions, keep in mind that it’s always possible to go big even while shopping small.
Here are just 5 of the many local businesses at Waikiki Beach Walk worth checking out.
1) Keep It Simple Honolulu
Open as of November 2021, Keep It Simple
is one of the newest stores to join the Waikiki Beach Walk family. Founded by Hunter Long and Jillian Corn, this sustainability-driven shop is stocked with vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic, and reef-safe products for health, home, kitchen, and beauty. Some of these are locally made by other small businesses and then brought under one roof to give customers more options and to actively support partners in the community.
Keep It Simple also operates on a “Refill Station” model when it comes to household products, such as soap, cleaning solutions, hair and body care, nuts, and spices. This encourages people to move towards a zero-waste lifestyle by letting them fill reusable containers with the amounts that they need for each item. If your resolution is to be more eco-friendly or to be a more sustainable traveler
, Keep It Simple is the way to go.
Specializing in semi-fine, handcrafted jewelry, Kolohe
is a one-of-a-kind boutique that allows customers to customize their own pieces in shop with different styles of charms and chains. The gold-filled accessories are long lasting and tarnish resistant, which makes them ideal for island life (or practically any other environment).
This new type of modern luxury comes from the mind of CEO and Founder, Rose Wong
, who started the brand at age 16 while she was still a high school student. She chose the name Kolohe — a Hawaiian word for rascal — because it embodies the idea of challenging norms and thinking outside the box. Jewelry by Kolohe is meant to accentuate the individuality of the wearer, all while adding beauty and poise.
3) Oahu Honey Co.
Locally owned and operated, Oahu Honey Co.
is the joint effort of husband-and-wife duo, Justin Duny and Brittany Hegedus. Starting in 2009, Justin began rescuing honey bees while out on the job as an exterminator, so that they could be safely rehomed at farms across the island. The bees are then free to continue living life by pollinating crops, which in turn helps local farmers and supports Hawaii’s agriculture.
Justin assists with maintaining the hives, while Brittany uses the resulting honey, beeswax, and pollen to make raw, natural products, such as soaps, candles, edible butters and spreads, and other flavored honey treats (including her delicious honey ice cream). Located on the first floor of the shopping center, anything from Oahu Honey Co. will surely be a sweet treat for someone special (even if that’s yourself)!
4) SoHa Living
was founded in 2002 by Brooke Watson and Shyrah Maurer, two sisters from Hawaii Kai (a neighborhood on the east side of Oahu), who had a dream of running their own business together. When they were young, the two traveled frequently to Southeast Asia, where they came across the inspiring work of local artisans in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Collecting various crafts and trinkets from each country to bring back home, Watson and Maurer saw an opportunity to open a store to showcase all of their special finds.
Today, SoHa Living is a full-range home goods and gift shop that embodies coastal chic and tropical luxury. There are numerous locations throughout the islands, including one at Waikiki Beach Walk, which offers a wide selection of candles and diffusers, kitchenware, decor, accessories, gourmet mixes, and more. It’s the perfect place to visit if you want to create your own slice of paradise at home or bring a gift back from your time in Hawaii.
5) Roy’s Waikiki
Known for its distinct Hawaiian fusion cuisine, Roy’s Waikiki
is one of the best restaurants on Oahu for those eager to explore the incredible flavors that define the Pacific. Its namesake, Chef Roy Yamaguchi, is highly regarded as a visionary in the culinary world, having won numerous accolades including the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Pacific Northwest Chef. He is credited with pioneering the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement and continues to be at the forefront of Pacific Rim gastronomy.
The menu presents a combination of appetizers, entrees, desserts, and drinks that aptly reflect Hawaii’s many diverse cultures. Yamaguchi makes it a point to source as many fresh, local ingredients as possible for his dishes, so dining at Roy’s also means supporting Hawaii’s farms and fishermen