On the Road with Rare Device
with Jenn Zipp
Hi, I’m Jenn! You may know me from my starring role in “Working the Wednesday Floor Shift at Rare Device” and as the occasional hand model in many of our Instagram reels. It’s finally summer, and unless you’re into celebrating the June Gloom in California, many of you are hopefully going away for a much deserved vacation. I recently spent some time in my hometown of Honolulu, and have compiled a list of small businesses that are worthy of a visit if you ever find yourself on the island!
Located in Kaimuki, a neighborhood that has gone above and beyond in supporting local small businesses, The Public Pet is an urban pet store that specializes in pet food, accessories, and supplies. Many of the items sold there have a “local” flair largely due to the local makers and businesses they source from. Where else are you going to find “Furry-kake” Food sprinkles for your pet?
They also have their own line of freeze dried pet treats for dogs and cats made in Hawaii free of additives and preservatives. There’s also a Human section of the store where you can find Keep It Kaimuki attire, accessories, stickers, and stationery. (Fun fact: Owner Jordan Lee and I used to work in a mall kiosk together during our college years!)
Named for the salt water ponds that used to be located in Kaka’ako, SALT has become one of the hot spots on the island for art, food, shopping and culture.This single city block is jam-packed with shops, eateries and rotating murals by local artists. Two of my favorite places are in this cultural epicenter:
Hawaii is truly a melting pot of cultures, with many of the “plate lunch” staples being a hybrid of two or more cultural cuisines served on a bed of rice with macaroni salad, like Japanese teriyaki beef and Korean kalbi. But visitors rarely seek out traditional Hawaiian food, which I have a special place in my heart for. So much of it is grown and produced on the island, fostering cultural traditions in its preparation, making it truly farm to table. Above, (starting at the top right clockwise) there’s Kalua Pig, Poi (made of pounded taro root), steamed Okinawan purple sweet potato, Haupia (coconut custard pudding), Lomi Salmon (tomatoes, onion and salted salmon), squid luau (squid cooked in coconut milk and kalo or taro leaves), chicken long rice, and in the center is their famous lau lau. Yes, this is all for one person, and no, I did not finish it. I still feel defeated, but the waitress said I did a great job.
Paiko is a botanical boutique for all your plant, flower, and home needs. All plants and flowers are locally and sustainably sourced. There’s a DIY potting station, behind the register is a florist station where you can order arrangements, and there’s a home goods boutique connected to it, where you can browse their selection of books, listen to a few records and shop their clothing selection. You can also sign up for one of their workshops!
I make it a point to always stop by Polu Gallery when I’m home to bring back a print to add to my apartment gallery wall. I usually visit the North Shore/Haleiwa location, but during my last visit, found that they’ve recently opened a location in Waikiki. I’ve discovered some of my favorite local artists from these visits, like Punky Aloha, Kim Sielbeck, and Kris Goto.
There are definitely more idyllic locations in Hawaii than the tourist trap of Waikiki. However, if you do find yourself there, a visit to Maguro Bros. will make up for it. Brothers Junichiro and Ryojiro Tsuchiya own and work at 2 locations. The Chinatown outpost is open for lunch, and the Waikiki to-go counter is open from 5-8 (but show up at 4:30 for the line!) Fresh, good quality poke isn’t hard to come by on the island. But Maguro Bros. is some of the tastiest. I suggest getting the Shiso poke over rice, getting a Strawberry Guava Hawaiian Sun, and heading over to the beach to catch the sunset.
Some other places to eat:
Merriman’s for happy hour cocktails
Rainbow Drive-In for classic plate lunch
Waiola Shave Ice for, well, shave ice
Aloha and safe travels!