A quiet plea to save the International Market Place

The International Market Place in Waikiki. As a kid, I saw it as a place where adventures could happen. As an adult, I see it as a way for people to start a micro-business and form a community with other micro-business owners.

But last month, just before the end of the year, I was surprised to read a small article in “Pacific Business News” that reminding us that the iconic International Market Place in Waikiki (along with the Miramar Hotel) will be demolished and redeveloped in 2013. The new project will involve “a new three-level retail, dining and entertainment center” (“Waikiki’s International Market Place, Miramar Hotel to be razed under redevelopment plan” 12/28/11).

The development has been planned for years, but I couldn’t believe that they would actually tear down the International Market Place.

I know that it’s not an “authentic” Hawaiian experience. I know that some people would consider it a “tourist trap” full of small stalls and narrow walkways. I know that it has become out-of-place in upscale, beautified Waikiki.

But I also know that it’s a fun, informal, and interesting place to wander around, without feeling as if you’re under-dressed. I remember strolling along the winding path, just a little lost, in search of those elusive souvenir penny machines. There’s a beautiful, towering banyan tree; I look up and appreciate this exceptional tree, the hub of the Market Place. 

Consolidated’s Waikiki Theatres have been closed since 2002; the Waikiki IMAX Theatre lasted a little longer, but admitted defeat in 2003. Further down Kalakaua Avenue, Niketown in the King Kalakaua Plaza, a four-story shopping and entertainment complex, has been vacant since 2009. Maybe Hawaii visitors and local residents don’t want another expensive, mammoth “entertainment center” in Waikiki.

Is there a way to save the International Market Place? Is it an eye-sore or a Waikiki icon? What do you think?

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8 Comments on “A quiet plea to save the International Market Place”



    • Hi Mary, Thanks for reading and supporting the International Marketplace. The latest news that I’ve heard, from Hawaii News Now,: Queen Emma Land Co. is developing a shopping center to be anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue. There’s an online petition to stop the development at Change.org. aloha!

  2. Cindy Rasque Says:

    We were just on vacation last week and learned that The International Market Place was closing forever. How deeply saddening! We are repeat tourists and I can say that The International Market Place holds some of my happiest memories of Hawaii. Seems that the powers that be are only interested in catering to the ultra-wealthy and do not care about middle income tourists. High end stores such as Sacks, Nieman Marcus, etc. do not offer anything unique to Hawaii. These stores exist in every large city and most of us do not go to Hawaii to shop in them. The International Market Place has always offered a nice view of old Hawaiian culture. Not only that, it helps to keep the prices of other goods in line. I expect to see a sharp spike in prices once the marketplace closes.

    • Hi Cindy, Thank you for your comments — and for visiting Hawaii. The International Marketplace is (was) an informal, casual place for everyone and a great opportunity for small business owners. Aloha and I hope you will come back again.

  3. Geraldine Says:

    Save the International Market Place in Hawaii

  4. P. Francis Says:

    Thank you for updates on the International Market Place. We’ve been to Waikiki 8 or 9 times but our last trip in November 2913 will probably be our last. The shop keepers in the market place were very depressed because they could not possible afford the rent in the new facility. I would fear that the powers that be will make sure there is no place available for them.

    • I was sad to learn that not only have we lost the International Market Place, but also a striking three-story tile mural on the Miramar Hotel. I hope that the new development fits in with Waikiki’s history and culture, and that they incorporate more public art. Thank you for coming back to Hawaii over the years, and I hope you will decide to return again. aloha, Rachelle

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