First Friday night markets are all the rage in Hawaii. The first began on the island of Kauai, and it was soon followed by Oahu and then, most recently, the Big Island. Think after-dark farmers market meets live music and entertainment.
The Hilo First Friday Night Market is a unique and lively place to shop. Around 6 p.m. on the first Friday of every month, the Hilo First Friday Night Market spills out onto the streets of downtown Hilo in Bayfront on the east side of the Big Island. The market itself is centrally located on Mamo Street, and shops all around town open their doors later than usual.
One Gallery's new location at Bayfront — Photo courtesy of One Gallery
The somewhat sleepy town comes alive, as locals and visitors alike come out to celebrate everything local and creative. The array of vendor booths on the streets and in the central market area selling handmade jewelry, pottery, paintings and clothing are an awesome addition to the Hilo shopping scene.
Each First Friday, the crowds are larger than the last; the vendors are more abundant; and more people arrive for open mic performances, live music and poetry readings.
Shopping at the market is all about locally made, grown and produced goods. Vendors like Peace of Hawaii post up at the market each month, selling hand-crafted silver and gold jewelry. The Big Island born and raised owner beachcombs for shells and beach glass around the island and sets the colorful pieces in earrings, rings and bracelets.
Hand-crafted jewelry from Peace of Hawaii — Photo courtesy of Peace of Hawaii Ocean Trends Co.
Vendors with locally made, hand-painted clothing sell women's attire and t-shirts.
In addition to the vendor booths, the boutiques and galleries that line the streets of downtown Hilo open their doors beyond their usual hours, and sometimes they offer special First Friday sales. Galleries like One Gallery and High Fire Hawaii are purveyors of a wide array of locally made jewelry, pottery and fine arts.
For clothing and swimwear, Sun Your Buns is a hot spot with local girls. The small consignment shop sells a big selection of new bathing suits, along with previously owned clothing and shoes. The shop has men and children covered, too.
Three bookstores are also right in the area, all small and independently owned. Hilo Bay Books and Big Island Book Buyers buy and sell used books. They're great places to find unique and out-of-print books.
Streetside painting — Photo courtesy of Hilo First Friday Night Market
Meanwhile, Basically Books sells new books, with a strong focus on local culture, lifestyle and publications. Basically Books is Hilo's quintessential bookstore, offering a relaxed place to browse books and talk story. They also have a nice selection of trinkets, maps, arts and toys.
Those interested in Hilo First Friday need to pre-plan a bit before visiting the island, since those first Fridays can slip by. And when shopping in Hilo, always bring a reusable shopping bag, since plastic bags have been banned in the area.