When Rouse Baird was a kid in rural Kentucky, he put together a postage stamp collection. Then he sold it.
Soon he acquired a hoard of Indian head pennies. He sold that, too. His early cigar band accumulation endured a similar fate.
As a young man, Mr. Baird amassed a hoard of neckties and hawked them door-to-door.
For the son of Louisville street car conductor, a pattern had been established.
Today, few visitors to the islands are familiar with Mr. baird, but every one who has visited Hawaii over the years, has created away curios and trinkets Mr. Baird brought in and sold wholesale to Waikiki merchants.
As Hawaii's oldest and one of the largest souvenir importers, Mr. Baird collected and sold more shell leis, aloha ashtrays, shaking hula dolls, cheap ukes, and Hawaii-themed egg timers, bottle openers, paper fans, lett openers, toothpick holders, and back scratchers than any person who ever lived.
Known as the "King of Hawaii Souvenirs",he was the main supplier in Hawaii of low-end souvenirs. Most of the inexpensive, nostalgic knickknacks in Waikiki still come from his warehouse. How many of his doodas occupy mantles and bureau drawers around the world is anyone's guess but the number surely is in the tens of millions. He loved to sell.
Mr. Baird passed away in 2005, but his company has continued on as a family business. Family loyalty is not exclusive as most of his employees also think of themselves as belonging to the R. Baird & Company "ohana" (family).
All of us at R. Baird & Company consider it an honor to carry on the tradition and Aloha spirit that our founder and leader started. We love our company, and want to keep the tradition alive of our island visitors taking home a bit of Hawaii.
From the R. Baird & Co. Ohana