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Our kid testers went head over heels for the children’s shoe department at Nordstrom Ala Moana Shopping Center. Welcomed with a balloon and a friendly salesperson, children are never scolded for roaming about and touching the shoes as they please. Plus, there are coloring pages, crayons, a fish tank and cartoons running in the dressing rooms, so even the most antsy kids will be entertained while mom and dad shop for the next size up. 1519 Kapiolani Blvd., 953-6100,shop.nordstrom.com.
When local designer and Project Runway finalist Andy South wants amazing fabric, he goes to Kaimuki Dry Goods. “The fabric they offer is the best quality in the Islands,” South said. “They have specialty silk combinations, bamboo knits and jerseys, things that are very modern.” Old-school customer service also sets Kaimuki Dry Goods apart; it’s not unusual for staff to buy fabric from suppliers with particular customers in mind and give them the scoop with a personal call. 1144 10th Ave., 734-2141, kaimukidrygoods.com.
Like most pawnshops, Liliha Pawn will take almost anything of value. “We offer what everyone else offers, but we have great customer service,” says Dale Ichishita, owner. The shop takes in musical instruments, fishing gear, jewelry and more. Should you fancy a visit, you might happen upon Nedward Kaapana, who frequents the shop to give Ichishita’s business partner, Jonathan Wong, ukulele lessons from time to time. “I only play the radio,” laughs Ichishita. 1616 Liliha St., Suite 102, 538-7296.
We love the instructions on Filthy Farmgirl’s Galactic Ginger soap: Remove spacesuit until naked … find water … lather vigorously … enjoy! Tested after a midday run, this soap took away sweat and left a creamy ginger scent for hours afterwards. The soap names might be dirty—Filthy Beaver, Patchouli Sutra—but the product is pure. “We make our soaps with coconut oil, no chemical fragrances and no yucky stuff,” says co-founder Devin Asch, who’s also the artist behind the funky retro packaging. Available at Whole Foods Kahala, or visit filthyfarmgirl.com for free shipping; no minimum order.
Let’s face it, many of us can’t even keep a house plant alive, let alone grow a garden. Alan Joaquin came to the rescue of black thumbs everywhere when he created The Wiki Garden. It’s a three-foot-long mesh tube filled with organic compost and soil; all you have to do is cut holes in the mesh, plant seeds and connect it to a garden hose. You don’t even need a backyard; Wiki Gardens can be set on rocks or concrete. “A lot of the obstacles have been removed,” says Joaquin. “It gives people a fighting chance to grow their own organic vegetables.” Try it for growing mixed greens, peppers, tomatoes, onions and herbs. One Wiki Garden lasts for two years and is available for $37.95 at the Mililani, Hawaii Kai or Kaneohe City Mill or online at thewikigarden.com.
The blue bin is just the beginning. Our favorite new (well, actually very old) way to recycle is worms. A smell-free colony of earthworms from Waikiki Worm Co. turns yesterday’s fried rice into tomorrow’s soil. Trust us, after a lively conversation with owner Mindy Jaffe, you’ll be a believer. “All we manufacture here in Hawaii is garbage; 34 percent of our waste is organic,” Jaffe says. “Why not put it to use?” Organic waste becomes vermicompost, a rich, pest-resistant soil created by worm poo. Systems range from a $78 backyard box to a $1,000 lateral composting bin for the serious worm convert. 1917 S. King St., 945-9676, waikikiworm.com.
Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy? If it’s your dog, reward him with a freshly baked manapua, dim sum or wonton from Hawaii Doggie Bakery. The little shop in Ward Centre creates a wide selection of fresh treats, custom designed to be irresistible to pups. Every treat features at least one locally sourced ingredient, such as poi or Haleiwa honey, and all the ingredients are of human grade. “You could technically eat these yourself, although it might not be as tasty for you as for the dog,” says store manager Amanda Dela Cruz. (Doggie Bakery treats are baked with no salt, sugar or butter, which dogs apparently don’t mind.) “Some of our customers have dogs with sensitive tummies who are on special diets, others come in for treats to celebrate their dog’s birthday,” Dela Cruz says. “For our customers, pets are like family.” 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 1160, 591-2031, hawaiidoggiebakery.org.
It’s made with beeswax and coconut oil, but we mostly love Maui-made Bee Kine surf wax because it smells great, works like a charm and doesn’t put any chemicals into the water. Maui couple John Astilla and Harmony Hallas started making Bee Kine on their kitchen stove, inspired to complement the beauty of natural-wood boards with natural wax. Available at Whole Foods Kahala or at beekinesurfwax.com.
Eating organic is good for the body, but wearing organic? That’s good for the soul. Normal cotton uses more pesticides than any other crop, so buying clothes made with organic cotton protects the health of both farm workers and the environment. Among Hawaii-based designers using organic materials, Maui’s Kealopiko stands out, not just for using responsible fabrics, or donating 8 percent of its proceeds to Hawaii preservation, but because its designs incorporate endangered local flora and fauna. Designs available online at kealopiko.com or at Na Mea, Ward Warehouse, Flower Child, 41 Kihapai St., and spaHalekulani at the Halekulani Hotel.