Hawaiiana. 7337 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. 654-5010.
Shortly after the Union acquired Hawaii in 1959, Bethesda acquired Hawaiiana. "Your Hawaii in Washington," the store proclaims itself, offering everything from "island fashions" and fragrances to hula lessons. The lure of the islands may have given Hawaiiana its initial business boost 20 years ago, but what keeps it going today? Owner Joanne Noll attributes most of the success to the alternative, and "enduring," clothing styles she brings in from Hawaii. "We've done well, since styles this year have not agreed with a lot of bodies," Noll says. The traditional Hawaiian muumuu (pronounced moo-oo-moo-oo) is comfortable, loose-fitting and made to fit most body shapes. And the boldly colored, flowery designs that distinguish Hawaiian fashions many women find refreshing. Although the store's main attraction is women's clothes, there is also island garb for men (flowered shirts and swimming trunks) and children, sandals, exotic jewelry, decorations for luaus, souvenirs from the 50th state, books, records, even a supply of grass skirts. Aspiring hula dancers regularly meet in Hawaiiana's mirrored back room where Ruth "Maile" Baker, instructor at the shop for 13 years, gives lessons in the native dance.