Back in March, my Auntie A and Uncle L visited O‘ahu, and, being unemployed at the time, I was able to take them around to a bunch of interesting places during their stay. Perhaps the most “colorful” of the bunch was Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, if only for the sheer volume of colorful sundries and out-there stimuli.
This is a portrait of my…
Hawaii Life: Silly Goggles, Hula Doll and Sexy Soap Misadventures at Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
If you’re trying to plan for a day of Hawaii site seeing during your visit to Oahu, I highly recommend stopping by Aloha Stadium Swap Meet for at least an hour or so after or before a visit to local beaches or Pearl Harbor. There’s so much to see here, all neatly gathered in one place, that you would otherwise might have a hard time finding outside of Waikiki–and probably better priced.
A and L referred to me as the “daughter they never had”. Being the “cool and hip aunt and uncle” in my family (I have a few of these), I consider this a totally rockin’-yet-wholly-undeserved compliment. I was lucky to have a week with these two.
The ever ubiquitous “Aloha Print” attire, known–perhaps tarnished by American Tourists and derided–the world-over, are quite affordable and abundant at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet (flea market). Men can obtain pretty authentic-looking Aloha shirts at Costco for a steal, but why not go local style and get it for a bargain? Getting a deal, that’s local kine shit.
Haoles (Hawaiian/Pidgin for “whites”) may have a harder time haggling than those of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. You’ve been warned.
Due to the cultural and ethnic makeup of Hawaii, tourist traps like Aloha Swap Meet, Waikiki and local convenience stores sell Asian pop culture kitsch like Hello Kitty plastic eye glass frames at their hipster best without lenses or Animé/comic staples like Domo gear. Having an impressive assemblage of Asian novelties caters to the waves and waves of tourists from Asia, but also makes shopping in Hawaii kind of a shopper’s paradise for people who dig Asian pop culture paraphernalia.
On the plus side of this tourist-centric commercialism, I can also find elusive Japanese and Korean cosmetics if I dig hard enough. Win! (Just not at the Aloha Stadium.)
Hula dolls are the epitomé of tourist fodder yet a wonderfully vibrant statement of the rich enduring cultural heritage of the Islands.
The practice of hula dance (story telling) and hula music (traditional and historic Hawaiian music) are taken very seriously in Hawaii, and thousands of halau (Hula schools/groups) exist to pass on the knowledge and practice of hula from kumu (elder/teacher) to haumana (students). Thus, heritage spanning hundreds and hundreds of years (from the 1300s) thrives, fighting back dark fears that the history of the Islands will die under the plague of modernization and disinterest.
Plus, however cheesy, the dolls are pretty cute.
You can find them at one of every ten booths at the swap meet.
Now: on to my favorite part of the flea market: Filthy Farmgirl Soap Co. soap bars. Sexy irreverence at its best.
Despite the shocking name, Filthy Farmgirl Soap Co. is a local business dedicated to producing a natural, sustainable multi-sensory bath experience. All their bath and body products are lovingly handmade in Hawaii out of 100% natural and vegan ingredients. Many of the herbs and spices used in their skincare is locally and organically grown, supporting Hawaii farmers and reducing carbon emissions.
Despite the sexy irreverence and cheeky snark in their soap names, Filthy Farmgirl soaps aren’t some scandalous novelty. These moisturizing soaps are as deliciously fragrant as they are luxuriously moisturizing.
Their product catalog offers 80+ “flavors” of soaps emblazoned with saucy, brazen names like the three pictured here, to more tame scents like “Uber Super Duper Aloha”, “Tipsy Tea Tree”, or “Groovy With Everything”.
Bars sell for $8 a pop (also available online). But you can get bundle deals if you buy them at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. I think Auntie A got 3 for $22. These are probably among the more unique (and actually useful) souvenirs that you can snag for your loved ones Off-Island. They make great gifts for friends and family who have a sense of humor and a love of amazing scents.
Amazing label design and thoughtful “flavor” formulations make products like Filthy Farmgirl Soaps not only a subversive and thought-provoking pilgrim among a sea of blasé “peer” products, but also a blazing reason to support local, small start ups. When you support people who aren’t afraid of going against the grain, creativity flourishes and inspires others to break the mold and follow their own paths of creation. Buying local bolsters your local economy, sustaining and creating jobs, strengthening the community around you. *TRYBUYLOCAL*
I took “Filthy Hooker” home with me. Cue a “That’s what she said” joke and subsequent snickering.
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet is open 3 days a week–Wednesday, Saturday from 8AM to 3PM, and Sunday from 6:30AM to 3PM–and is home to 700 local vendors.
Admission is $1 per person, children 11 years and under free. Parking is free with the price of admission.
It’s a good place to stop after a visit to Pearl Harbor and is relatively easy to find. It’s the biggest structure on Oahu outside of Honolulu. But you can visit their website for directions.
Even if you only go for an hour, I’d say it’s worth it just to browse for the novelty of sheer mass of Hawaii paraphernalia all in one place. (And for the soap.)
Auntie A and Uncle L loved it. Not to miss in my book.
Me ke aloha ~ With love, Xx
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FTC: Not a sponsored post. Just a look at my own experiences and giving my own opinions on stuff I totes dig.