Hawaii Steals and Deals

We may be in the midst of an economic slump, but that doesn't mean you have to hold yourself up in your home for the duration. We found 53 ways to shave the costs off retail therapy, sprucing up your home, collecting art, grocery shopping and more. All without breaking the bank.


Photo: Courtesy of Fashionista’s Market

Fashionista’s Market

If you’ve ever participated in a clothing swap, then you already know it’s the best way to get a bagfull of new looks without ever opening your wallet. Now imagine a swap where, instead of exchanging goods with 10 of your best friends, you’re sifting through the items of more than 250 women. Enter Fashionista’s Market Fourth Annual Closet Swap, happening Oct. 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Luana Hills Country Club in Kailua. Want to get in on the frenzy? Drop off gently used or new (and fashionable!) clothes, bags, shoes and accessories at the Fashionista’s Market Boutique (1185 Bethel St.) before Oct. 6. You’ll receive a ticket that notes the number of items that were accepted. (It’s a one-for one situation, whether clothes are from Fendi or Forever 21.) On the day of the event, you can take home the number of items on your ticket. Admission to the event is $30 and includes a champagne breakfast, girly games and giveaways. Proceeds benefit the Leeward Domestic Abuse Shelter. Note: Don’t expect to show up at the event and shop with cash. You must drop off items beforehand. 1185 Bethel St., 537-1115, fashionistasmarket.com.

Photo: istock

Every August and January, Neiman Marcus holds its “Last Call” shopping event, offering 55 to 70 percent off regular prices in most departments. Typically, the sale lasts for one week, but get there early for fresh pickings. Ala Moana Center, 951-8887,

Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale usually happens during the last two weeks of July. Trendsetters will love this—the items are new for the fall season, and offered at sale prices before they’re marked up to regular prices at the beginning of August. For example, a pair of Sam Edelman over-the-knee boots was on sale for $299; down from $399. Ala Moana Center, 593-2255, shop.nordstrom.com.



Shopping Rewards

We perused some local boutiques and found some great shopping bonuses.

The Compleat Kitchen

Spend $200 and get $10 off your next purchase. Kahala Mall, 737-5827, compleatkitchen.com.

In My Closet

Spend $500 and get a $25 credit toward your next purchase.  Kahala Mall, 734-5999; Pearlridge Center, 486-5999, inmyclosethawaii.com.

Splash Hawaii

Spend $250 and get a $25 credit towards your next purchase. Ala Moana Center, 942-1010, splashhawaii.com

Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii

Purchase $200 on locally made gifts and get a $20 gift card. Ward Warehouse, 596-8885, nativebookshawaii.com.

Riches Kahala

Spend $500 and get 10 percent off every purchase for life. Kahala Mall, 737-3303, richeshawaii.com.

Shasa Emporium

Spend $600 and get 10 percent off your next purchase. Kahala Mall, 735-5122, shasaemporium.blogspot.com.



Inside the W Salon.

Photo: David Croxford

Get a New ‘Do

Want to get spruced up  for the holidays? Wendy Do, the co-owner of W Salon, tells us about some fun deals the salon is running now through December. With the purchase of a haircut or chemical service, if you have never tried a Kerastase or Shu Uemura treatment (worth up to $40), you can get one for free. If you’ve been hesitant to try hair color, this is a good time to take the plunge: With any haircut, clients who have not colored their hair before with the salon can get a free highlight enhancement (worth $75). Ala Moana Center, 943-2700, wsalonhawaii.com.

We have a friend who once asked, in disbelief, how it was that every woman he knew got her hair styled at J Salon. For the record, we know lots of great salons that women across the Islands swear by. But it’s true that J has quite a following. If there’s anyone left who hasn’t gone, referring them earns you a $20 discount on a future cut. 1240 Ala Moana Blvd., 550-4441, jsalon.com.

Haircuts at the Paul Brown Salon usually start at $40, but book with a junior stylist, and a shampoo, haircut and blow dry is only $27.50. “We’ve been doing this at our Ward Center Salon and Spa and on Maui, but we’re expanding the program,” says Angela Howard, managing director. The junior stylists have been through Paul Brown training, but are newer to the salon world. You can also find weekly specials, usually posted on Mondays at the company’s Facebook page (facebook.com/paulbrownsalons). The week we looked, there was a prize giveaway of five flat irons, for example. Multiple locations; paulbrownhawaii.com.

Free Love

Need to get your nails done? Eyebrows out of control? Let the folks at some of our local salons such as Bobbi and Guy Salon and Spa, or Heaven on Earth give you a mini-makeover during All Dolled Up at Pearl Ultralounge. From 6 to 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month, take advantage of complimentary mini-makeovers, free cover and girls-night-out drink specials such as a Tickled Pink Bellini. Ala Moana Center, Hookipa Terrace, third level, 944-8000, pearlhawaii.com. [Disclosure: HONOLULU’s sister publication LeiChic.com is a sponsor of this event.]


Culture Vultures

Rich Richardson, the creative director at The ARTS at Marks Garage, demonstrates his artistic flair.

Photo: Rae Huo

Art on the Cheap

Think you have to spend a fortune on art for your home? Rich Richardson, artist and creative director at The ARTS at Marks Garage, doesn’t think so. Here, Richardson shares five ways to decorate your dwelling—for less.

 1) Think about scale

“Art doesn’t have to be large. I get excited when I see a small piece that’s under 12-inches square. [Art that size doesn’t] take up much space, and you can put it in a box and move from place to place very easily.”

2) Choose a medium

“A good way to embark on a collection is to start with a certain medium like, say, photography, which is usually inexpensive. When you have 12 similar or related objects, you have a collection that presents a body of knowledge. For prints, I’d recommend going to the Honolulu Printmakers’ annual portfolio sale. They have hundreds of prints to look through in styles for all tastes.” The prints range from $25 to $150. The sale is Nov. 26 to 28, 536-5507, honoluluprintmakers.com.

3) Display ephemera

“Take favorite keepsakes that are already in your home, such as old records, T-shirts, ticket stubs, comics, old ribbons from track, and frame them or make them into an installation piece. It’s about translating teenage inclinations into present circumstances, just ‘adult-up’ the presentation. Plus, when you get stuff out of boxes, you’ll get more enjoyment out of it.”

4) Frame simply

“When you create consistency in framing, it can create a sharp, fun collection. “Get frames that you can live with, and stay away from anything that’s too ornate.”

5) Do it yourself

“Treat yourself to a class, whether that’s photography or drawing. Another way to get active in your own pursuit is to challenge yourself and some friends to make 10 pieces in 10 weeks.” ”

Photo: Courtesy Hawaii Theatre

Card Sharp

When it comes to our local museums and theaters, it pays to be a member.

The Contemporary Museum (TCM) 

Individual membership is $45 for one year, giving you unlimited entry for yourself and an accompanying friend. Surprise benefit: Members are invited to Member’s Mornings, which includes artist lectures and hands-on demonstrations. 2411 Makiki Heights Drive, 526-1322, tcmhi.org.

Honolulu Academy of Arts

Individual membership is $55 for one year, including unlimited admission to Art After Dark—which means you pay off your membership just by going to five Art After Dark events. Surprise benefit: Unlimited, free Wi-Fi in the Luce Pavilion Courtyard.
900 S. Beretania St., 532-8700, honoluluacademy.org.

Bishop Museum 

Individual membership is $40 per year, including unlimited admission to both the museum, The Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium and the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden on the Big Island.  Surprise benefit: Members receive a 10-percent discount on historic print reproductions from the library and archives. 1525 Bernice St., 847-3511, bishopmuseum.org.

Hawaii Theatre Center

Individual membership is $50 for one year, including discounts on performances and advance ticket sales (before they go on sale to the public). Surprise benefit: Members receive a 10 percent discount on food and drinks at the nearby restaurants, including Duc’s Bistro, Indigo, Little Village Noodle House, Restaurant Epic, Soul de Cuba Café, and more. 1130 Bethel St., 528-0506, hawaiitheatre.com.

Atherton Studio

Concert tickets are $20 for Hawai‘i Public Radio (HPR) members (nonmembers pay $25). Surprise benefit: Members receive advance ticket notice on national shows, such as a recent performance by classical concert pianist Sara Davis Buechner. 738 Kaheka St., 955-8821, hawaiipublicradio.org.

Kennedy Theatre

“Advance Super Saver” tickets for main-stage events typically go on sale from mid-July to early September and provide significant savings off regularly priced tickets. 1770 East-West Road, 956-7655, hawaii.edu/kennedy


Free Love

» The annual Ukulele Festival, founded by Roy Sakuma, takes place every July at the Kapi‘olani Park Bandstand and features a variety of performers from solo virtuosos to an ‘ukulele orchestra of more than 800 students. Ukulelefestivalhawaii.org.

» Every First Friday, the Hawaii State Art Museum hosts Live from the Lawn, where local musicians take the stage from 5 to 9 p.m. Bring a blanket or some beach chairs and have a picnic with food from Downtown @ the HiSAM. Don’t forget to check out the galleries inside, which are always free to peruse. 250 S. Hotel St., 586-0900, hawaii.gov/sfca.

» Feed your brain on Egyptian archaeology, Chinese literature, molecular biology and more at free lectures at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 2500 Campus Road, 956-8111, hawaii.edu/calendar/manoa.

» Learn about King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani’s royal home on the first Sunday of each month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Show a Hawaii ID and get free admission to Iolani Palace, including a docent-guided tour. 522-0832, iolanipalace.org.

» Take in more than 10 current and permanent exhibitions at the Honolulu Academy of Art on the first Wednesday of each month and during Bank of Hawaii Sundays every third Sunday. This month the Academy is featuring “Four Thousand Years of Southeast Asian Art” and “Indian Company Painting.” 900 S. Beretania St., 532-8700, honoluluacademy.org.


Photo: Olivier Koning


Buying produce at farmers’ markets

“Local herbs, fruits and vegetables are a great deal because they last longer,” says Lisa Asagi of the Hawaii Farm Bureau. “It’s surprising how long they last. With Maunawili Greens, for example, they take special care when harvesting the lettuce to keep the roots so it will stay fresh in your fridge for more than a week. A lot of the farmers harvest the night before, so you’re getting a very fresh product.”

Buying from local farmers not only means your food stays fresher longer, but is also a surefire way to support Hawaii agriculture, which helps keep food prices down in the long run. “Those prices are not dependent on oil prices,” Asagi says. “The more we can rely on local food, the more stable our food prices will be.” Check hfbf.org for the list of markets.


Wine Tastings

Take a load off  and learn about vino at these complimentary wine tastings. Salute!

Nestled in a Chinatown courtyard, HASR Wine Co. (Highly Allocated, Spoiled Rotten) has free wine tastings on Tuesday and Fridays—including First Fridays—where drinkers learn about different grapes from various regions. 31 N. Pauahi St., Suite 1B, 535-9463, hasrwineco.com.

On Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m., head down King Street to The Wine Stop, a cute, peach-painted house, for its complimentary tastings and on the second and last Friday of each month for wine and cheese (and sometimes beer and whiskey) pau hanas. 1809 S. King St., 946-3707, thewinestophawaii.com

At D’Vine Fine Wine and Spirits in the Koko Marina Shopping Center, leave your wallet at home for the complimentary Tuesday tastings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 7192 Kalanianaole Highway, Suite C-122 (near Blockbuster), 394-5801, kokomarinacenter.com.


Hurray for free spaghetti with meatballs at Auntie Pasto’s!

Photo: Mark Arbeit

Kids Eat Free

Dining out with the little ones isn’t always as relaxing as a night out should be. But what if their food was on the house? Here are some places that offer free keiki meals.

Order an entrée at Ryan’s Grill on Sunday and kids 12 and under eat free. Ward Centre, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., 591-9132, ryansgrill.com. Kids 10 and under eat free at the Auntie Pasto’s on Beretania Street every Monday and Wednesday, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Kunia location. Auntiepastos.com.  On Mondays and Tuesdays head to any of the three Gyotaku locations (King Street, Niu Valley and Pearl City) after 2 p.m. and keiki 10 and under eat free. Gyotakuhawaii.com. From 2 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, kids eat free at the Pearlridge Shopping Center location of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant. Save room for a sundae! 98-1005 Moanalua Road, 488-9339, farrellshawaii.com.


Weekday Freebies

Get a monday morning pick-up at any of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf locations with a free espresso shot when you buy a cup of coffee. It ends at 11 a.m., but the shops open at 5:30 or 6 a.m. Coffeebeanhawaii.com.

Catch an early flick at any of the three Regal Cinemas on Tuesdays (Dole Cannery, Windward Stadium or Pearl Highlands Stadium) and get a free small popcorn with your matinee ticket stub. Regmovies.com.



Photo: Rae Huo

What’s Cookin’?

Learn how to prepare vegetarian dishes, eat healthy and improve your knife skills at these cooking classes.

Whole Foods Market Kahala

Whole Foods Market Kahala offers a handful of free cooking demonstrations every month, such as the series titled, “Healthy Choices and You,” which takes place every second and fourth Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Past themes have included “foods that put you in a good mood” and gluten-free dishes. Call the store in advance to reserve your space. 4211 Waialae Ave., 738-0820, wholefoodsmarket.com.


Need to improve your know-how in the kitchen? Almost every Sunday at 10 a.m., Williams-Sonoma at Ala Moana Center offers free one-hour technique classes, such as on seasoning and knife skills. Call the store and reserve a spot in advance. 951-0088, williams-sonoma.com.

Down to Earth 

Learn how to prepare meat-free dishes at Down to Earth’s Vegetarian Lifestyle Center, located next door to its Honolulu store. Held every first Saturday at 11 a.m., free cooking classes are taught by local chef Saradha Johnson (seen in photo at right) and also include samplings. No reservations required. 2525 S. King St., 947-3249, downtoearth.org/events.

Kokua Market

This month Kokua Market features Kathy Maddux, certified macrobiotic teacher and personal chef, giving a one-hour demonstration on macrobiotic cooking. For more information or to RSVP, send an e-mail to rsvp@kokua.coop or visit kokuamarket.ning.com/events.


Free Love

During Hank’s Happy Haute Hour at Hank’s Haute Dogs every Monday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., buy one hot dog, get one free. Don’t forget to order the sweet onion rings! 324 Coral St., 532-4265, hankshautedogs.com

At around 4:30 p.m., sneak out of the office to Indigo for its free mini-buffet (leftovers from the lunch buffet), including pancit noodles, fish medallions and rosemary red potatoes—a perfect snack paired with a $4 martini. Get there early; it’s first come, first served. 1121 Nuuanu Ave., 537-4164, indigo-hawaii.com.


Wine 101

One of the most celebrated local wine classes is Alan Jahns’ Vintage Program in Wine Appreciation, offered by the University of Hawai‘i Outreach College. For $135—and that’s five sessions—Jahns will teach future wine connoisseurs all they need to know; he’s been teaching for a decade and a half. The next classes run Oct. 14 through Nov. 18, on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. outreach.hawaii.edu.


Let’s Get Fiscal

Honolulu Club

Local fitness stalwart  Honolulu Club offers regular membership promotions, especially for couples and families. Signing up also gets you free or discounted weight-training sessions, special rates on spa services and access to the huge facility’s exercise equipment, yoga studios, tennis, squash and basketball courts, and more. Looking for an even better deal? It’s only $1 to run into and up Diamond Head crater, and a couple of laps around Ala Moana Beach Park are free.

The Sierra Club

The Sierra Club offers  outings every weekend on Oahu, including access to hikes that are typically offlimits, such as Kolekole Pass, which requires military approval. Intensity varies from easy to strenuous; visit hi.sierraclub.org/oahu for more information. $1 for Sierra Club members; $5 for nonmembers.


Warehouse manager Parker Mossman, with some of the recycled building materials the nonprofit Re-use Hawaii has in inventory.

Photo: Mark Arbeit

Fixer Uppers

Re-Use Hawaii

A DIY job doesn’t always require buying new materials. With a mission to curb waste, the nonprofit Re-use Hawaii performs deconstruction projects across the state.

“One of our goals is to provide affordable building materials,” says Selina Tarantino, co-executive director of Re-use Hawaii. “We’ve got doors, windows, lighting, hardware. Lumber is our biggest seller, and it’s all affordably priced.”

Tarantino says the best way for treasure hunters to find out about unbelievable deals is to visit the downtown warehouse. In addition to the goodies from deconstruction projects, she says materials left over from huge construction projects—like Waikiki hotels—are often donated. “We have, for instance, really cool marble backsplashes for a sink,” Tarantino says. “We’ve got tons of them from Trump Tower. They were $50 each and we sell them for $10 each.” If you want to turn your castoffs into write-offs, Re-use Hawai‘i also takes tax-deductible donations. 30 Forrest Ave., 550-4441, reusehawaii.org.

Home Matters

Need advice on home decor  or want to learn how to tile your floor? Look no further than Home Depot. Part of the Home Improver Club, the store (with locations in Iwilei, Pearl City and Kapolei) offers free DIY workshops every Saturday and Sunday, including keiki activity classes the first Saturday of every month. Participants learn how to install floor tiling, shop for countertops, fix troublesome toilets or learn fire prevention tips—October is fire prevention month—and ways to save energy in your house. “It’s all about empowerment and the realization that these projects aren’t as difficult as you think,” says assistant manager Stephanie Kishaba. “You can hang a ceiling fan, you can fix your leaky toilet.” The workshops are taught by industry experts; sign up online or just drop by your nearest Home Depot. The store can also deliver your wood tiling or lumber to your home any day of the week for $79, and offers free delivery on all appliances. homedepot.com.

Throwing a Party

Photo: Courtesy Island Events

When it comes to planning  and throwing a party at your home for your friends and family, Frank Robinson, the founder and president of Island Events, says the first step is defining a budget. “It’s important to save money when you throw a party, without losing your sanity.”

Robinson organizes about 40 luxury parties a year, so he knows about organizing and money-saving tips. He suggests a hybrid of services. For renting equipment you’re not likely to use every day, such as 20 chairs, colorful linens or outdoor lighting, he recommends using Royal Party Rentals and adding the materials you already own, such as stemware and china. “When you’re entertaining at home, if you have stemware and china, use it. It adds personality, especially if there’s a great story behind those pieces.” Rather than getting your party catered, Robinson says you can save money by cooking dishes yourself, and, for larger parties, having chefs deliver premade dishes. “You don’t have to hire a 30-plus cooking and wait staff, but you don’t have to do it all yourself either.” Lastly, add a personal touch to your party, such as a signature cocktail, or homemade parting gifts such as chocolates. “People remember the little things.” If you’d rather Robinson handle the party, Island Events offers a full range of services, and, he says, discounts come in the form of his negotiating power with other companies. islandeventshawaii.com.


Photo: Courtesy of Sheraton Waikiki

Local Getaways

You don’t have to leave the island for a relaxing getaway. Here are some great staycation spots.

This post-summer, pre-holiday season is a great time to get deals like hundreds of dollars off nightly rates and discounts to world-class, luxury hotels such as the Halekulani, the Kahala Resort and the Royal Hawaiian.

If a night away from your own bed isn’t your thing, there are other luxury dining and spa pampering discounts that many resorts offer to Hawaii residents. The Kahala’s Epitome Program is free for Hawaii residents to join, and offers a range of deals. June Cappiello, marketing communications manager for the hotel, explains, “The Epitome Program is to encourage our local residents to come visit us more often, with a 10-percent discount on all of our dining outlets as well as discounts on catering for functions, spa treatments and the fitness center.”

There is also a rewards program; you can trade, for example, 500 points for a beach cabana for one day. “Generally, a beach cabana would only be available for our in-house guests.” kahalaresort.com/epitome.

Many hotel websites have kamaaina sections that outline special offers. But there are just as often opportunities for deals not listed, especially in the off season. It’s also free to sign up for preferred status through hotel conglomerates that offer significant discounts on local favorites. For example, sign up as a Starwood Preferred Guest member and save up to 50 percent on rooms at the Royal Hawaiian, Sheraton Waikiki and Moana Surfrider through the end of the year. As of press time, nightly rates for rooms in the $400 to $500 range were as low as $245 at the Royal Hawaiian, $198 at the Moana and $173 at the Sheraton.

Ask about kamaaina rates every time you pull out your wallet. All kinds of places offer discounts, whether you’re buying admission to the zoo or a new bikini at Billabong.


Going Places

For cheap parking in notoriously expensive Waikiki, go here:
• Park in the lot next to the Sheraton Waikiki, then have pupu and get free validation at the Royal Hawaiian.
• Park at the Waikiki Trade Center for $6 per day, with validation.
• Drive with a military friend and park in the Hale Koa Hotel lot, which costs $2 for the first hour and $1.25 for every hour thereafter.


Wisdom from the Gurus

Shopping Season

Saving a buck has a lot  to do with timing. Jasmine Tso, marketing and promotions director for Ala Moana Center, offers suggestions:

“The end of June and early July is when retailers put their spring/summer collections on clearance. This means it’s the perfect time to stock up on tank tops, sleeveless dresses, white pants and open-toe shoes and sandals, which, of course, are items that we can wear year-round in Hawaii.

Many retailers showcase holiday merchandise and offer incentives in November. Even with a recovering economy, retailers won’t be over-ordering inventory. So, shop early if you don’t want to be left with sparse pickings in December.”

Saving Tips

We spoke to Paco Underhill, author of the bestseller, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping; he gave us tips on how we spend and what we could be doing better.

“We could live our lives on fruit, vegetables, pasta, wine, olive oil and maybe a little chocolate, plus socks and underwear,” Underhill says.

“We need practically nothing. There are very few purchases that turn you into something other than what you were to start out with.”

Underhill highlights some of the basics in smart shopping—don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry or tired, make a list and stick to it, beware of buying more produce than you can eat before it spoils—but he also debunks some conventional wisdoms. Buying in bulk, he argues, isn’t always the deal it’s made out to be.

“The question is whether the money sits in your account or sits in theirs, and ultimately it’s better off sitting in yours,” he says. “When we have something in bulk, we tend to use it more profligately."