The Nauseatingly Colorful World of Dollar Store Tiki Merchandise!
LIKE YOU, I collect tiki mugs and related exoticabilia.
Unlike you, I’ve done so for ages. I’m not some Ionakana-Come-Lately who just started a few years ago when it became wildly trendy. No, I began collecting tiki stuff a little before that, when it was just reasonably trendy.
But soon after it was wildly trendy and everyone and his kaikua’ana was into tiki stuff, it therefore became decidedly less trendy, and then, eventually, not trendy at all.
…And that’s when the dollar stores got in on it. Well, mostly.
Yet to this day, people like me (and, yes, okay, to a lesser extent, you) were as much into tiki stuff as we’d ever been (since we got into it originally, that is). We march to the beat of a different pahu, you and I – we care not for fads, for trends, for what may or may not currently be “hep.”
So you’re saying, “Ted,” you’re saying, “That’s great! Trendy or not, this dollar store tiki merchandise you’re about to show us – why, it’s just more great tikibilia for us hardcore tiki enthusiasts to enjoy, right?”
You’d think that, sure, but you’d be wrong.
And here’s why: Above is a very small cross-section of my tiki collection. Oh, just a few things I quickly threw together that I had lying around here. I’ve got boxes of this stuff, sure. Doubles of a lot of stuff, and doubles on top of doubles. Yeah got a pretty awesome collection. Yehhhp…
Now look at the tiki crap the dollar stores peddle:
The difference, as any hupo can see? My stuff – the good stuff – isn’t colorful.
That’s not to say you must banish color from your little homemade polynesian paradise. No sir! That’s not what I’m saying at all!
However, the bright hues shouldn’t come from your tikis but rather your little paper umbrellas, your leis, your aloha shirts, your Japanese glass fishing buoys, the gushing blood when you slash open your finger cutting up pineapple slices for garnish, and so on. That’s where the color comes from, pal – but your tikis…? They need to be dark and drab. Look, I’ve got green tikis, blue tikis, red tikis, sure – but they’re in somber, muted shades!
They’re not these dayglo moai-nstrosities!
Another thing: your tikis shouldn’t be happy! These are vengeful gods, people! They need to be angry, or at the very least solemn! Most of the dollar store tiki accoutrements feature moronically giddy, smiling faces that look like they’ve just smoked a great big úmeki of Maui Wowie while listening to Iz Kamakawiwho’sis mangle “Somewhere Over the Wonderful World.”
But the dollar stores don’t get it all wrong. In fact, our good friends over at 99¢ Only nailed it with these waste baskets:
Sure, they had them available in lime green, neon pink and bright blue, but as long as they offered them as well in sensible dugout canoe brown, you won’t hear me complaining!
Dollar Tree, too, surprised me recently with this very tiki-bar-specific accessory:
The requisite fishnet hung from the rafters – an oft-forgotten but mandatory item without which no authentic tiki bar is complete!
Lest you think my exotica expectations from dollar stores are a little unreasonable, know this: They started it. Specifically Dollar Tree. About ten years ago they offered – for a buck a piece! – these amazing guys:
A buck a piece these were!
And they’re not teeny-tiny tikis, either–they’re between 6″ and 7″ tall each. (There were a couple others, too, that I’m just too lazy to pull off the shelf and photograph.) So looking at these – you realize, at least for a while, right when tiki stuff was at its most popular – Dollar Tree got it!
But somehow in the years since then, they lost it, and now would-be tiki-philes who don’t know any better are buying this stuff and throwing parties – unholy, dangerous parties, no doubt infuriating Kū-kaili-moku, the Hawaiian god of war. Much like Rainbow Brite’s arch-enemy Murky Dismal, he hates colors! Probably!
Me, I’m taking no chances. Oh, sure, I’ll buy a set of their three hideous bug-eyed shot glasses for a buck.
But they must undergo a very sacred, never-before-photographed ritual before they’re given a place of honor on the altar that is my tiki bar!
Sacred! Oh so sacred!