5 Thoughts on Record Collecting in Hawaii

I got to thinking again, but this time about what makes digging in Hawaii special. Following conversations with local collectors, here are my thoughts about record collecting in Hawaii.

Over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Honolulu, the annual Friends of the Library of Hawaii music and book sale in Kaka’ako drew thousands of bargain hunters, casual shoppers and hardcore collectors of comics, CDs, vinyl LPs and books. With camera in hand, I documented the set up process and, subsequently, the first opening day, when the line to get in exactly at 9am grew to nearly a hundred people.

Record Collecting in Hawaii (Friends of the Library of Hawaii)

It got me thinking (again), but this time about what makes digging in Hawaii special. Some of the conversations I had with local record collectors—like the guys who arrived at 7am sharp for the 9am sale, and the other collectors who showed up at 7:30am only to be the second party in line—reinforced my thoughts about record collecting in the Islands.

Following yesterday’s popular Instagram post, here are 5 thoughts on digging in Hawaii:

1. People from all cultures and regions of the world come to Hawaii, bringing their music collections with them. There’s lots to discover.

I’m consistently amazed by what’s available here. Granted we don’t have mountains of music shops like Portland, Oregon, where there are almost as many vinyl houses as coffee shops. But we have a handful of good records stores, like Hungry Ear and Jelly’s. And what you can’t find at a traditional establishment, you’ll likely find at a thrift store or, better yet, a garage sale.

FLH 2013-01-19 Kakaako-4451

2. Absence of a “cutthroat” atmosphere. You hardly see any pushing, shoving, or snaking at big events.

You won’t see elbows fly at record shows. That’s because people respect one another here. Respect goes a long, long way in Hawaii, and if you’re not respecting others, there’s gonna be a lot of stink eye coming your way. Plus, the aloha spirit and laid back lifestyle permeate the collectors aura. Every collector I know is relaxed and friendly.

Record Collecting in Hawaii

3. Most everyone knows each other, and everyone’s friendly.

Did I mention people were friendly? Not only are most collectors easy to talk with, many of them are willing to share their knowledge—and their collections. I wouldn’t have been able to write about Nova, a super obscure disco/funk band from 1980, if it weren’t for a collector friend who lent me their LP. Sure, there are some collectors in the Islands who’d rather keep most of it to themselves, but the people I’m closest with are the ones who enjoy sharing music with friends, even if that means knowledge of a holy grail raer passes on to others.

Record Collecting in Hawaii

4. Few hardcore diggers in the city = low competition.

How many times have I—or someone I know—been digging just after another collector and found that they passed up on some incredible ish! Because so few hardcore collectors populate Oahu, there’s less competition and more chance of finding what you’re looking for. In fact, the competition decreases further because everyone’s looking for something slightly different than you. It’s true! If you’re looking for rare Latin salsa funk, you’re probably the only one. Hell, during the first 15 minutes of day one at the Friends of the Library Sale, no one touched the Hawaiian section!

Few people touched the Hawaiian section... Thoughts on Record Collecting in Hawaii

5. It’s digging in paradise!

Can’t say much else about this one!

The crew of True Story Textstiles listening to their comeups.

The crew of True Story Textstiles listening to their comeups.

What attracts you to digging in Hawaii?

I’d love to hear what draws yo to Hawaii for records. Comment below or tell me on Instagram.

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