Paradise for Tiki Lovers

International Tiki Marketplace brings in 43 vendors of tiki ware for Dec. 6 SoCal event
Santa Tiki

Chris Garland, co-creator and promoter of the International Tiki Marketplace in Huntington Beach, admits a large creative debt to two successful men of mid-century Los Angeles: Donn Beach and Arthur Snyder.

The three-year-old marketplace occurs on a specified weekend day every two months or so, including this upcoming Saturday December 6. Reflecting on the tripled attendance and number of vendors since the first one, Garland recalls brainstorming the concept with his wife and co-creator Karen, and also Snyder.

Although some suggested that Garland start an outdoor marketplace for his beloved tiki culture, "I always loved the International Marketplace in Waikiki. I said, 'No, it's going to have that International Marketplace vibe.'"

Donn Beach, born Ernest Gantt, was founder of both the original Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood in 1934 and, much later, the International Marketplace in Waikiki. Art Snyder was the attorney and longtime Los Angeles City Councilman who bought and, then in 2009, revived the once ubiquitous tiki-style tavern concept on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.

Don the Beachcomber's presence as a restaurant and more in Huntington, "an icon on its own...and one of those tiki temples that you won't see anywhere," completed the concept for Chris and Karen. Snyder's cooperation before his passing a year ago was crucial.

"Tiki is all about escapism," he says of their vision for the marketplace. "You walk through the doors, and you really think you're stepping out of Southern California and into a tropical paradise."

Garland said the December 6 market will feature 43 vendors of tiki ware, some in Santa hats and featuring holiday-themed merchandise that they don't always show at the periodic marketplace. He promises entertainment by the Smokin' Menehunes and Tony Marsico of The Martini Kings, plus Hawaiian shaved ice and other tropical delights, including, of course, rum drinks.

Admission is $10—redeemable for food and drink. For more information about International Tiki Marketplace, click here and here.