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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tiki Crazy

I've put off writing about our trip to Tiki Oasis because I'm tired. It was a lot of work getting ready for it, it was a lot of work working at it, and it's been a lot of work coming back from it. I'm only just now getting caught up from the aftermath of dismantling the store to take everything with us for our booth, and then putting everything back IN th store for regular business. I'm not complaining, you understand. Just stating the facts. The truth is, I kinda pushed Wes into vending there. Ok, I didn't just "kinda" push him. I begged. I pleaded. Okay, okay, I pushed HARD! It's been three years since House of Tiki attended or vended at one of these events. With the economy the way that it's been and the hard time we've had staying afloat, Wes and I both knew we needed to do this. House of Tiki needed a good shot in the arm. I made a deal with Wes. I would take full responsibility for running the booth at Tiki Oasis, and he would go and make himself seen. In other words, he would be the PR department...schmooze and booze with the natives. I liked our plan. I think he did too.

For the last couple of years, Wes has been "laying low" in the Tiki World. I know things have been tough. It was heartbreaking having to close the store on Newport Boulevard and to give up his dream of Hot Lava Java (the coffee shop attached to House of Tiki) after only a few months. The city took so long to get us our permits that it took over a year to actually open, and by the time we did, we missed the much-needed summer tourist crowd. House of Tiki ended up "carrying" the expenses to run the coffeshop, and by then, we just couldn't hold it up anymore. It took the wind out of his sails. In the last couple of years, it's been one setback after another. Many days, it's hurt my heart to see him hurting. He sold his property on the well-traveled, high-traffic Newport Blvd. and we moved into an out of the way warehouse. No customers for a year. Then, we found the funky little quonset hut we now call home. Slow at first, but so much better than the off the beaten track warehouse. People started coming in. They'd say; "We thought you guys went out of business! We're so glad you're still here." Charlie and I started showing up at Tiki events, and people would say; "Where's Wes?" Everywhere we went, "Where's Wes?" I'd tell him, "You're the one they want to see! We've got to get you back out there!" So, I pushed, and he'd shuffle. He totally agreed with me, but he still shuffled. As Tiki Oasis neared, he finally jumped on and said.."Let's do it, Pua!"

So, off we went. We ordered new shirts, new mugs, new stuff. We started telling customers we were going to be there. I saw a new fire in the Big Kahuna. It was good for the soul. He even entered his dune buggy "Bugzooka" into the car show. Trying to keep expenses down, I called my sister and asked her if we could stay at her house instead of paying for a room at the hotel. I also signed Charlie and I up to volunteer for guest check-ins so we could put names to faces and also because it helped me get tickets for Rick and Trent. A few months ago, I told Rick that a bunch of surf bands were playing and since Rick plays with a surf band of his own; Morning Glass, (that's Rick in the foreground!) I thought he would enjoy coming and checking it out. Seeing Rick and Trent for the short time that we did on Saturday night was probably the ONLY off-time we had. And that was all of two hours. Still, it was the best two hours! Thanks for coming Rick and Trent..it was WELL worth those volunteer hours just to see you. Thursday note: Trent is my date tonight for Wicked because Ricky has a gig. And while I'm sorry Rick has to miss Wicked, I'm VERY excited about my date with Trent, Sis, and Phil. Thanks again Ricky!

We worked from sunup to sundown and well past it. While tikiphiles partied, we worked.

While the Big Kahuna Wes PR'd his heart out, we did what we came there to do. I saw my sister all of half an hour the whole weekend. We'd walk in the door at 1 AM and she would give us loving pity and send us off to bed. Then we'd get up before seeing her and get back to the event to work our booth. We're exhausted, all of us. But for Wes, and House of Tiki, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. My pictures are pretty sedate. I didn't get much because, well, we were working the whole time except for the short time we spent listening to The Lively Ones with Rick and Trent. But, to get a "feel" for what was happening at Tiki Oasis from the people who were there to party, go HERE. Because like I said before; words just can't do it justice.