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Hilo Hattie Stores in Hawaii: A Review
Hilo Hattie's Stores
I recently returned from my first trip to Hawaii. Before I left, I had hoped to find some wonderful Hawaiian gifts and clothing to purchase by which I could remember my trip. My husband and I were on a cruise ship and after the first stop on our cruise, we saw people returning to the ship with shopping bags from a place called, "Hilo Hattie". I had never heard of it but the shopping bags were prevalent everywhere so we decided to check it out.
I later found out that Hilo Hattie has been voted by Hawaiian residents as, " The Best Place for Hawaiian Fashions" for the past 10 years. After visiting, I think that they mean the best place for Hawaiian fashions that are actually made in Hawaii. There are plenty of shops that sell Hawaiian style clothing, but some of the clothing is actually made in other places including Indonesia. The Hilo Hattie company is quite active in promoting its stores, even going so far as to provide shuttle buses from cruise ship ports directly to their stores. I am sure this free transportation helps bring in a lot of extra business from tourists who have only a limited amount of time at each port.
History of Hilo Hattie Stores
The Hilo Hattie stores were founded in 1963. The founder, Clara Nelson, legally changed her name to "Hilo Hattie" in 1942! She was known for being a woman who knew the true meaning of the 'Aloha Spirit." The very first store was opened in Kauai, but the chain has seven total to date, located in Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Island of Hawaii. Hilo Hattie stores carry a huge assortment of clothing, gifts, souvenirs, home goods, beach accessories, jewelry and gourmet foods. It has become Hawaii's largest retailer of Hawaiian fashion and gift ware. The Hilo Hattie stores are open 365 days per year, but hours vary depending on the store location.
My Experience at Hilo Hattie's in Oahu
On this particular trip, my husband and I visited the Hilo Hattie store in Oahu. Although we had been planning to visit a Hilo Hattie store at some point, the convenience of the free shuttle from our port stop was what convinced us to visit that particular store. We had just returned from a tour of the island which had made us hot and tired.
As soon as we entered the free shuttle bus and felt the cool air we already began to feel refreshed. What made it better was arriving at the store to find free cool drinks in the entryway. Visitors were allowed to help themselves to refreshing juices. On the wall next to the juices was an amazing sight. To this day I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of the 'World's Largest Aloha Shirt" which has been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is actually a size 400XL! Once inside the store, we encountered the clothing area. I am a bargain shopper, so was hoping for some good deals on clothing and souvenirs. Unfortunately I was disappointed. The clothing was beautiful, and the prices varied, but in the actual clothing departments, I found the clothes rather expensive. Dresses ran from $24.99 through $105.00, with women's blouses from $29.99 through $80.00. Men's shirts ran from $24.99 through $88.00. There was a mark down area, but unless you were a size extra small or extra, extra large, there was no hope of getting a good deal. Most of the jewelry was tourist fare, with lots of shell jewelry and the like, but I saw much better deals at other shops for what looked like the same pieces. I did find the employees to be very nice and helpful with plenty of suggestions for different styles and fit of the clothing. That must be part of the famous "Aloha Spirit" that Hilo Hattie was known for.
All in all, visiting the Hilo Hattie store was a positive experience but more for the ambiance, not for getting any good deals as a tourist. If you have money to spare and want some good quality clothing made in Hawaii, you will enjoy Hilo Hattie stores very much.
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