Air-Brained


Published:

Entrepreneur John Paul Farmer wants to sell you some air. Not air, exactly, but a bottle with fragrance beads in it, labeled "Pure Hawaiian Air." The product does have Hawaiian air in it. It's bottled on Maui, after all.

Crazy as it sounds, there is some logic behind Farmer's creation. For years, he worked as a flight supervisor for Continental Airlines, taking passengers from Portland to Honolulu each week.

The smell of the Islands? Photo: Ronna Bolante

"I noticed passengers always talked about how much they miss the air in Hawai'i, the smell of flowers," Farmer says. "It's the first thing they smell when they get off the plane and the last thing they smell when they get back on."

The clincher for Farmer was a chapter in the book Chicken Soup from the Soul of Hawai'i. "My wife and I were on a beach in Maui, and I read [TV mogul] Al Masini's story," Farmer says. "He said he wished he could bottle Hawaiian air like Evian water and send it home. I looked at my wife and said, 'Well, why can't you bottle Hawaiian air?' She told me to shut up, but I did it anyway."

Farmer hired a chemist to concoct various scents: plumeria, pikake and, as we went to press, ginger was in the works. Farmer began selling the stuff online (www.purehawaiianair.com) and at Maui specialty stores, for $6 a bottle. Customers snatched up about 2,400 bottles within two months.

Farmer seems to specialize in the unexpected. He made a name for himself in his hometown of Portland, Ore., with a trail mix called Gov. K's Budget Crunchies; Tonya Hot Sauce, named for the infamous figure skater; and Jail Blazer Jam, which poked fun at the drug scandals involving some local basketball players.

"With Pure Hawaiian Air, I'm not making fun of anybody, but it's a fun product," Farmer says. "If you're in Chicago in January, you can smell Hawaiian air and you're back here momentarily. It sounds crazy, but people have bought pet rocks. And those were just crazy enough to work."

OUR TOWN

You can barely see the rooftop of the Beretania Tennis Club from the H-1 freeway. You can't even see it from its Victoria Street entrance, surrounded by Makiki high-rises. But the Beretania Tennis club is a little piece of Honolulu history, celebrating its 102nd anniversary this month.

"Most of the people who play tennis on this island have never heard of the club," says club pro John Williams. "It's like an oasis here in Honolulu."

The modest property has three tennis courts and a small clubhouse. Founded in 1901 on King Street, the club relocated in 1937 to its current site, a donation from Alfred Castle. Over the years, tennis greats such as Lew Hoad and Bobby Riggs have visited.

The club now has 70 members, mainly bankers, lawyers and other Honolulu professionals. There used to be a waiting list to join, but several members have retired or died in recent years, Williams says. He would like to recruit about a dozen new members. Interested? Call Williams at 389-3372.

Ronna Bolante

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