The Evolving Face of International Market Place Mall in Honolulu, HI

The History and Evolution

The International Market Place Mall holds a special place in the hearts of those who have resided in Waikiki, Honolulu, for an extended period. More than a mere shopping center, it is a significant landmark that has witnessed the city’s transformation over the years.

Established in the 1950s, the mall started as an open-air market, a bustling hub where locals and tourists could find unique Hawaiian crafts, exotic foods, and live entertainment.

Over the years, the mall underwent several transformations. Gone are the days of the simple open-air market; the mall is now a modern shopping center with air-conditioned halls and high-end boutiques. But it hasn’t lost its essence. The major renovation in 2016 was a turning point, transforming it into a three-level shopping complex while preserving its iconic banyan tree.

The banyan tree is more than just a tree; it symbolizes the mall’s deep roots in the community. It has witnessed the mall’s ups and downs, just like the generations of families who have visited it. The tree stands tall, reminding everyone of the mall’s rich history and evolution from a simple market to a modern shopping destination.

International Market Place: Architectural Highlights

The architecture of the International Market Place is a feast for the eyes. It’s not just about the shops; it’s about the experience. The mall’s design pays homage to Hawaiian culture, blending modernity with tradition. The most striking feature, of course, is the iconic banyan tree that has been preserved and integrated into the mall’s design.

The banyan tree is the mall’s centerpiece, surrounded by a garden featuring a storytelling circle at its base. This is where culture meets commerce. The mall’s architecture is designed to offer open spaces, natural light, and a sense of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of shopping.

The mall also features a range of materials native to Hawaii, further connecting it to its local roots. The architecture aims to create a harmonious environment by using natural stones to incorporate water features. It’s a place where one can shop, dine, and relax while feeling connected to the essence of Hawaii.

Current Tenants and Stores

Today’s mall is a mix of the old and the new, catering to tourists and locals. There’s something for everyone, from high-end brands like Saks Fifth Avenue to local boutiques offering Hawaiian crafts. However, change is the only constant, and the mall is no exception. Saks Fifth Avenue left the mall in 2022, allowing Target to move in.

This change has been met with mixed reactions. While some are excited about the prospect of a Target store, others are nostalgic about the departure of Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s a sign of the times, indicative of the mall’s ever-changing tenant landscape. Rest assured, the mall continues to offer a diverse range of shopping options.

Balenciaga and Burberry: The Luxury Corner
Nestled in the Banyan Court, Balenciaga and Burberry are the ideal of luxury fashion. Balenciaga, known for its avant-garde designs, has been a staple for fashion enthusiasts. Burberry offers its iconic trench coats and signature plaid designs right next to it.

ABC Stores: The Convenience King
With multiple locations within the mall, ABC Stores offer a wide range of products, from souvenirs to daily essentials. Open from early morning till late at night, this store is the go-to spot for tourists and locals. They are conveniently located at Level 1, Queen’s Court, and near the Kūhiō Ave. Entrance, making them easily accessible.

Tesla and Michael Kors: Innovation Meets Style
Tesla, located in the Banyan Court, is not just a car showroom but a testament to innovation and sustainable living. Right around the corner, Michael Kors offers a range of stylish handbags and accessories. These stores represent the blend of technology and fashion that the International Market Place Mall embodies.

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Local Flavors: Honolulu Cookie Company and Liliha Bakery
For those looking to indulge in local Hawaiian flavors, the Honolulu Cookie Company and Liliha Bakery are must-visits. Located at Level 1, Mauka Court, and Level 3, Grand Lānai, respectively, these stores offer a taste of Hawaiian hospitality with their range of cookies, pastries, and other local treats.

Tourism Aspects

Tourism is the lifeblood of Hawaii, and the International Market Place plays a significant role in attracting visitors. But it’s not just about shopping; the mall offers a range of services aimed at tourists. From currency exchange facilities to a dedicated concierge service, the mall goes the extra mile to make tourists feel welcome.

The mall hosts special events and cultural shows, especially during peak tourist seasons. These events are not just for tourists; they celebrate Hawaiian culture that locals can enjoy. The mall offers a slice of Hawaii’s rich cultural tapestry, from hula performances to traditional storytelling sessions.

After a day of shopping and cultural exploration at the International Market Place, many tourists opt for different sightseeing. Honolulu helicopter tours offer a bird’s-eye view of the city, providing a unique perspective that complements the mall experience.

Similarly, Oahu helicopter tours can extend the adventure beyond Honolulu, showcasing the island’s breathtaking landscapes and natural beauty.

Economic Impact

The International Market Place is more than just a shopping destination; it’s an economic powerhouse. It employs hundreds of people, from retail staff to management. The mall’s diverse range of stores also means a wide array of job opportunities, contributing to Honolulu’s employment rate.

Moreover, the mall plays a pivotal role in boosting local businesses. Many local artisans and food vendors have found a platform in the mall, allowing them to reach a wider audience. It’s a win-win situation; tourists experience local crafts and cuisines while local businesses get the exposure they deserve.

Future Prospects

What does the future hold for the International Market Place Mall? Well, if its history is any indication, the mall is set to adapt and thrive. Plans are already underway for further expansions and the introduction of more diverse tenants. Sustainability initiatives are also on the cards, with the mall aiming to reduce its carbon footprint.

The mall is not just looking to the future; it’s shaping it. With community programs and collaborations with local businesses, the International Market Place aims to remain vital to Honolulu’s social and economic landscape for years.


The International Market Place is not just a building with stores; it’s a symbol of Honolulu’s rich history and vibrant culture. It’s a place where memories are made, where the old coexists with the new. As Saks Fifth Avenue has said goodbye and Target is preparing to move in, the mall is all set for its next chapter. And just like its iconic banyan tree, it continues to grow, evolve, and stand tall.

Comments: 2
  1. Avatar of Mike Young
    Mike Young

    Loved the old. Won’t go near the new.
    30 year resident.

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Your comment serves as a reminder that while progress is inevitable, preserving the elements that make a place unique is essential.

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