The Call to Collect

Crowds enjoy shopping (right) and watching demonstrations (LEFT) at last year’s Hawai‘i All-Collectors Show.

If you think people who collect cereal boxes are a little strange, how about the woman looking for the Strawberry Shortcake intercom phone? Or the guy seeking a blue hippo finger puppet, given as a promotional item in a 1972 box of Crest toothpaste? Who wants a Tub Town play village? Well, someone does—that’s the cool thing about collectors.

This month, shoppers will descend upon the 14th annual Hawaii All-Collectors Show, a three-day general collectibles and antiques show. It’s organized by partners Ilene Wong and Wayne Maeda. “We both started collecting seriously as young adults,” Maeda explains. “Ilene likes vintage kitchenware, or what she calls instruments of drudgery’: old eggbeaters, mixing bowls, rolling pins, cookie cutters. My favorite things to collect are old 78rpm records from World War II, of American silly propaganda songs.” The two started the show because they wanted to shop for collectibles here in Hawaii, rather than always having to travel.

According to Maeda, Island residents will collect everything and anything, but there is a strong interest in Hawaiiana, from pre-contact to steamship days memorabilia to modern items. “There’s also a following for Asian antiques and Japanese toys. Many Hawaii residents grew up playing with Japanese-made toys and seek them out as adults.” 

The show’s vendors will primarily come from Oahu, the Neighbor Islands and the Mainland, with a few arriving from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Elizabeth Danner, a collectibles dealer, has attended the show several years in a row. “I bring Depression glass, ceramics and kitchen collectibles, as well as vintage jewelry and purses. I’ve always enjoyed the history behind the older pieces; they have so much life in them. There’s a big emphasis on Hawaiiana, but now more than ever people enjoy collectibles in general.”  

The show also features exhibitions, which in the past have included a Checkers & Pogo retrospective, displays celebrating Hawaii Territorial clothes hangers, plantation ginger graters and pre-statehood Hawaii athletes who made it to the Major Leagues.

This year, the Ukulele Guild will display ukelele construction techniques. The local Star Wars club will be appearing in full
costume, and Richard Kiel (“Jaws” in the James Bond films) will be signing autographs alongside Ben Chapman, of The Creature from the Black Lagoon fame. With this audience, there’s sure to be someone looking to add just that to their collection.

The Hawaii All-Collectors Show will be held at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Fri., July 23, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sat., July 24, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sun., July 25, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adults, $3.95; children 7 to 11, $2. Kids under 7 are free. Seniors (65 and over) are free on Sunday.