Need sunshine and palm trees? There's a place in Seattle that will not only take you to Hawaii, but they'll also treat you like ohana-- family -- once you arrive.
The Hawaii General Store is the kind of place where they string leis with fresh orchids and plumeria...while singing along to live ukulele tunes. Hula dancing breaks out spontaneously from time to time.
"It's like Hawaii -- be relaxed, hang loose, just have a good time!" said Dina Manatad, who works behind the counter at the store. "It reminds me of back home. And we love to talk story, so when customers come in we love to wala 'au which means to talk story.”
The 19-year-old store was born when the owner, Gail Stringer, who moved here from Hawaii, wanted to comfort a friend who was down.
"And I thought Oh my God, she needs a lei!” Yes, she’s heard all the jokes. And she meant the flower necklace kind of lei.
"So I thought, I'm just gonna open a place where people can come, get a lei when they need one.”
Leis arrive here from Hawaii every Thursday...the garlands of tropical flowers make everyone feel the aloha:
"This is what it's all about, can't get these anywhere else!” explained a man who had just come back from a Hawaiian vacation, and forgot his lei in the condo refrigerator.
Anyone who's homesick - or vacation sick -- for Hawaii will celebrate finds like guava syrup, sweet bread, and crack seed – dried, sour plums that are favorite snack food for Hawaiians.
There's even a small travel agency -- in a tiki bar, of course -- for booking trips to the Islands.
"I just love that people come in and it's a little melting pot in our store! And people can have that sense of aloha in their day. That's absolutely my favorite part.” Said Stringer.
At this place that sells everything from packs of poi to macadamia nuts, the most authentically Hawaiian thing you can get here is free aloha.
"Yeah. We love everyone,” smiled Dina Manatad. "The more love you give, the better it becomes!"