Founded in 1973, the People’s Open Market (POM) was formed to accomplish three goals:
- Provide the opportunity to purchase fresh agricultural and aquacultural products and other food items at low cost.
- Support the economic viability of diversified agriculture and aquaculture in Hawai‘i by providing market sites for local farmers, fishermen or their representatives to sell their surplus and off-grade produce.
- Provide focal point areas for residents to socialize.
More than 1 million people shop at the 25 market sites each year. Each market operates once a week and lasts about one hour. Prices are usually 35% lower than retail stores. The POM staff closely regulates the markets. The staff conducts weekly price surveys at various stores to determine a recommended price for the POM vendors to follow. Vendors may sell below, but not over, the recommended prices. The staff also supervises the arrival and departure of the POM vendors to ensure safety for both vendor and consumer. Each vendor is monitored to ensure that they comply with all city, state and federal government rules and regulations, ordinances and laws affecting their participation in the POM.
TYPES OF PRODUCE
At the POM, you will find many kinds of ethnic fruits, vegetables and other food items that are not ordinarily available in grocery stores. Depending on the ethnic make-up of the neighborhood, you’ll find a variety of foods associated with the different ethnic groups. Fresh ocean and pond fish, as well as farmed shrimps and prawns, are available—many sold live. In addition, a variety of Hawai‘i-grown flowers, such as ginger, orchids and anthuriums are for sale.
HISTORY OF THE OPEN MARKETS The beginning of the open markets is attributed to Mrs. Joyce Fasi. After hearing concerns of women in a discussion group regarding the high cost living in Honolulu and in particular the high cost of food, she relayed these thoughts to her husband, then Mayor Frank F. Fasi. Hence, the People’s Open Market was started to assist farmers with selling their “off-grade,” “ungraded” and surplus produce while lowering food costs for the citizens of Honolulu.
The first People’s Open Market (POM) was started at the Banyan Court Mall location in Kalihi in November, 1973. People in other communities began requesting their own POMs. Soon, a caravan of POM farmer/vendors was traveling to various sites to help the public purchase low-cost food items.
The city requires all vendors to be authorized to accept food stamps to help those who are on fixed incomes.
The People’s Open Market (POM) vendors are bound by a set of rules and regulations, which ensure that the POM operates smoothly and fairly for vendors and as well as customers. It is the vendors’ responsibility to see that their customers follow the rules and regulations. They are subject to citations and disciplinary action, including dismissal from the program for failure to comply with the rules and regulations.
Please cooperate with the POM vendors. Here are some of the POM shopping tips:
Plan ahead! There will be times that the market will start or end a little earlier or later than officially scheduled (5–10 minutes) due to certain conditions such as traffic, road conditions, school, weather, etc.
Things to keep in mind:
- Do NOT bag or ask vendor to reserve items before the start of the market (sound of an air Horn)!
- Do NOT cut in lines that vendors have formed!
- Do NOT shoplift!
- Do NOT squeeze or mistreat fruits and vegetables (papayas, tomatoes, etc.)!
- Do NOT bring animals (except seeing eye/ working dogs)!
- Do NOT litter!
- Do NOT ride bicycles through the shopping area. Park on the sides of the POM.
- Do NOT park illegally, double park or block driveways!
- Park in marked stalls ONLY!
- Bring your own shopping bags, packages and cartons!
- Be careful when the POM vendors’ trucks and vans are entering or leaving a POM site!
- Be considerate of other shoppers!
- Bring small bills and coins!