Field Guide: Antique Stores
Local antique stores are treasure troves of one-of-a-kind finds with a story to tell.
Tin Can Mailman
“There’s a very fine line between a junk store and an antique store,” says Christopher Oswalt, co-owner of vintage Hawaiiana shop Tin Can Mailman. This space manages to walk that line, packed but not crammed with tiki-themed souvenirs, bright vases, antique aloha shirts and rare books. Anyone who loves Hawaii’s mid-century vintage will find something here: 1940s Hawaiian-print tablecloths, a rainbow of plastic bangles in reds, yellows and blues, and vintage pinup-girl posters. The mix is eclectic and fun to explore—the definitive antiquing experience. 1026 Nuuanu Ave., 524-3009, tincanmailman.net.
Cedar Street Gallery
Owner Mike Schnack carries what he calls “new antiques” at Cedar Street Gallery. You’ll find Madge Tennent works painted on rippling wood surfaces that give them a kinetic feel. Ask to see the vibrant, New Deal-funded artwork of Jean Charlot and his original cards, mounted with their envelopes and handwritten notes. Upstairs, there’s a new show of contemporary art each month, so you might discover new talent as you search for old things. 817 Cedar St., 589-1580, cedarstreetgalleries.com.
T. Fujii Antiques
There are only Japanese treasures at T. Fujii Antiques, hand picked and brought back from Japan by owners Toshihisa and Lynn Fujii. Each item is identified with a meticulously typed card, which makes for easy browsing. The Fujii’s warn that the inventory changes, but, on a recent visit, there were pieces such as a shell-shaped hanging planter from the 18th century, weathered bamboo bentobako (bento box) from the 1860s and a porcelain statue of a badger—a trickster in Japanese legends—holding a sake bottle in one hand and an accounting ledger in the other. All purchases are wrapped in cloth in a traditional style, this year in rabbit print for the year of the rabbit. Kilohana Square, 1016-B Kapahulu Ave., 732-7860, tfujiiantiques.com.
Tucked into the floor level of the Davies Pacific Center on Bishop Street, Mellow Antiques is a perfect lunchtime retreat for downtown jewelry lovers. Cases teem with art-deco pieces such as a 1920s sculptural ring, dazzling with diamonds in a concave, asymmetrical design. A spiky starburst brooch, called the Sputnik, is emblematic of what mid-century artists thought the future might hold. Mellow also has a fine selection of classic Ming’s of Honolulu phoenix pieces, including a round, yellow-gold pendant on an antique box chain. 841 Bishop St., Suite 156, 533-6333, mellowantiques.com.
Robyn Buntin of Hawaii
This downtown shop is a place where you need an unhurried hour to visit. Though he specializes in Asian art, Robyn Buntin takes in anything he finds special, so his store reads like a well-paced history novel. An intricately woven Chinese robe with horse-hoof cuffs signifies the horsemanship of China’s Mongol-dominated period. There are jewelry, snuff bottles and amazing two-dimensional artwork, such as John Kelly’s iconic South Pacific paintings. “I do this because the next person through that door might show me something I haven’t seen before,” Buntin says. 848 S. Beretania St., 523-5913, robynbuntin.com.
Did You Know?
The most expensive aloha shirt to be sold at Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts went for $5,500 to Jimmy Buffett.