Remembrance for The International Marketplace

The entrance on a busy day

It was a little over a year ago, we became aware that The International Marketplace in Waikiki would be torn down and replaced with a Saks Fifth Avenue. They had been talking about doing this for years, but we found it absolutely shocking that they would actually break down and do it.

Sure, it was dilapidated and run down, but we (my SO, Monty and I) saw it as a place for “the people.” It was an inexpensive place to eat when visiting Waikiki, if we didn’t have a lot of money to blow on a fancy meal, and a it was great place to buy souvenirs for the peeps back home. For me, it held a lot of memories of a first job I held at the long, defunct Diamond Head Sportswear, and even more of the meals I shared with friends, after days of working on the beach. (Yes, I did do that once.) It was sad because we also realized that it needn’t have been torn down, when it could have been just maintained. Sadly, that is not how things seem to go. For myself, I don’t have much desire or means to shop in a place like Saks.

When we found out what was about to transpose, we made a point of visiting the venue and taking photos of how it looked, at least in its last days. Even as I took these photos, I realized that it was already too late. So many of the floors were already long vacant, and the vibrance that was once there was gone.

Last December, Honolulu Magazine posted an article telling us about how it once was, in its early days. It made me sad that I missed those days, mainly because I love so many things “mid-century.” I have memories of my grandmother telling me about her visits there, and seeing Don Ho and having cocktails at Duke Kahanamoku’s. I highly recommend reading the article, if you want to read about some wild times.

We went there several times before it was closed to be demolished, including what was supposedly the last night, which was December 31, 2013. Of course, that was only partly true. The Kuhio Ave. side was closing then, and then the front Kalakaua Ave. side was closing on January 31, 2014. We managed to be there on both “closing days.”

Needless to say, we felt a lot of sadness over the memories of times we’d spent there. So what I’ve done is put of a gallery of photos that I’ve taken over the past year or so. My feelings about this have changed through time in watching this place be demolished, though I still feel like there is something irretrievably lost. I can only say that I’m thankful that I had a chance to see it, even if only as the shadow of what it once was.

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