by Liza Simon
With his bandana and long white beard, A. Pake Zane has a look pitched somewhere between a gracefully aging biker and The Lord of Rings’ Gandalf. In fact, he’s a former psychiatric social worker and a veteran of world travels who waxes philosophical from behind the counter of Antiques Alley, the collectibles store he started more than twenty years ago.
photo by Kyle Rothenborg
"These are recycled cultural artifacts from every phase of human existence," he says, glancing at the Casbah-like space around him that he shares with eight other vendors. "I don’t want these things to go to the landfill, because everything here has meaning for somebody. You just have to find the right somebody."
Zane recognizes that his customers may have come in here to dream, not to shop. He’s the kind of guy who understands your compunction to "ohh" and "ahh" over the tiki-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers, or the huge jar of cat’s eye marbles, or the vintage Hawaiian fishhooks. Whatever you find, Zane will nurture your jones for it with this soothing insight: "In every family, there is a thrower and a keeper. You just have the keeper genes, right?"
A casual conversation with Zane often leads to tales of the exotic forays he made back in the 1970s, crisscrossing from the Sudan to Amsterdam. He tells of hairy exploits on the road—being jailed and ripped off—but mostly describes his life as one long mellow flow, owing to the fact that he lived out his long-cherished dream of going around the world. He reaches under the counter and produces the battered piggy bank—a tin globe—that he says first inspired his dream when he was a kid on Maui. He’s kept it all these years, owing to his conviction that "We live in a consumer society that is too quick to label perfectly good stuff disposable."
Antiques Alley is located behind Ala Moana Center at 1347 Kapi‘olani Blvd.