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Here's an insider secret: a bargain T-shirt shop in Honolulu

Here's an insider secret: a bargain T-shirt shop in Honolulu
The T-Shirt Store, in a commercial district of Honolulu, stocks tens of thousands of T-shirts at bargain prices. (Jay Jones)

Why pay $20 for a single souvenir T-shirt in Waikiki when, for the same price, you can get eight shirts? You're thinking, "In Hawaii? No way."

If you're in Honolulu, yes, way.

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The deals are worth the drive to the T-Shirt Store (1409 Colburn St.), which is in a commercial district that's about a 15-minute drive from the usual tourist haunts.

The store is inside a warehouse teeming with shirts and handwritten cardboard signs, by looks a far cry from the beachfront resorts. But with 80,000 T-shirts in stock in every imaginable size, the T-Shirt Store is a souvenir hunter's mecca.

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Owners Thomas and Sophia Wong cater primarily to Honolulu residents who don't want to fight the crowds and traffic along Kalakaua Avenue and spend $20 or more for a shirt.

"We want to provide a good service to the local people so they can get shirts at a reasonable price," Thomas told me. "We buy in large quantity, so the price is lower."

Shirts bearing a multitude of island-themed prints are eight for $20. You can expect to pay a bit more for plus sizes. The Wongs also stock a limited selection of Hawaii-style shirts that are locally made.

The husband and wife from Hong Kong usually work seven days a week. The store is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. It is closed Christmas and New Year's.

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