The Only Show In Town
There’s a scene in the movie Shrek in which Shrek tells his sidekick Donkey, “Ogres are like onions.” “They stink?” asks Donkey. “No,” retorts Shrek. “Onions have layers. Ogres have layers.” This shop, The Only Show In Town is like an onion (or an ogre). It also has layers. A lot of them.
From the outside, the first thing that comes to mind is “tourist trap.” The entrance is filled with chachkies: painted coconuts, refrigerator magnets, key chains, retro metal signs with quirky sayings.Then, as your eyes adjust to the light and clutter, another “layer” of the store reveals itself.
The antiques and collectibles in the store are quite unusual. A Coca Cola scale caught my eye. Priced at $900, it’s partially buried by a bunch of plates and a carved wooden turtle. There are vintage lanterns and tea pots. Intriguing bottles of all sizes, from small opium/snuff bottles to antique liquor bottles set along the window. Authentic Hawaii currency. Vintage fishing reels. Cheap elastic bracelets. The juxtaposition is wonderful.
The middle of the store is dedicated to beads. Many look Indonesian, others hail from China. Mystical beads. Stone beads. Odd shapes and unusual colors. My favorite: black and white strands from Africa that were carved from bone.
When it come to glass fishing floats, this store is The Only Show In Town. Forget the new floats that look generically perfect—almost plastic. These are the old handblown glass balls with glorious imperfections. The more unusual and the more interesting, the more expensive. I was intrigued by a float about the size of a tennis ball with water inside. No cracks, but about an eighth of a cup of water sloshing around. Go figure. That one’s priced about $40. They also have floats larger than basket balls, with bumps and wobbles and bubbles in the glass. You could almost imagine them bobbing in the ocean, strung together by Japanese and Chinese fishermen to hold up and mark their nets. If you grew up in Hawaii, you might even remember a time when these floats were plentiful. They’d wash up on the beach and it seemed everyone had at least one. Over the years the floats became a hot item for thieves, and now, you can only find the real ones in stores like this one.
If there’s one photo I wish I took, it was of the dozen or so taxidermied puffer fishes hanging around the store with stuck-on google eyes, wide-open mouths, hollow bodies, and spikes that shoot out like a startled porcupine. This would come under the chachkie category, perfect for your Gilligan’s Island home.
You’ll find The Only Show In Town and proprietor, Paul Wroblewski, near the windmills in Kahuku, not far from Turtle Bay Resort and the shrimp trucks. One word of warning—we went in thinking it was a quick stop, but an hour later we were still milling around. :: The Only Show In Town Antique & Vintage Collectible Shop, 56-901 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku, Hawaii. 808.293.1295.