3 Local Businesses Hunt Down Vintage Pieces That We Can Buy, Borrow and Brag About
Hawai‘i Mid Century Modern
Make passion your paycheck. We’ve all heard it, but John Reyno, owner of Hawai‘i Mid Century Modern, is actually doing it. His current 9-to-5 work centers around a hobby close to his heart.
“My business emphasis is acquiring, restoring and selling mid-20th-century furniture. I’m a collector first; the business began as a way to support my habit,” he says.
The thrill of finding that timeworn Eames chair or burnt-out bubble lamp drives Reyno to frequent yard and estate sales around the island. If he discovers a treasure in another man’s trash, the goal is to “preserve the original story of a piece,” he says. “Restoration work is incidental; I learned it so I can stand behind what I sell.”
But, with Hawai‘i’s wicked humidity, reclaimed projects, such as rebuilding a Walter Lamb coffee table, are often part of Reyno’s handiwork. And it means new beginnings, for the pieces he’s working on and for the families that make them their own.
“I’m doing an extensive restoration on an Eames lounge chair. It belonged to my client’s father and it’s been fun bringing it back so his daughter can get another lifetime out of it.”
The Kaimukī Lei Stand
Joyful dresses are big this season. People want to feel as happy as the hues on their fantastical frocks. So, when Keoni and Maka Williams, owners of The Kaimukī Lei Stand, added vintage mu‘umu‘u and aloha shirt rentals to their “budding” business, plus professional photo shoots with customers dressed in the duds, we were excited.
“It goes hand in hand with lei, lei-making and the sense of place we’re trying to re-create,” says Maka.
He started collecting aloha shirts back in the early 2000s. In 2019, while his storage closet tightened, his obsession with Hawai‘i-made gowns from the ’60s and ’70s grew. “Currently my collection includes more than 150 mu‘umu‘u and 200 shirts,” he says, all of which can be rented for special occasions.
Says Keoni, who manages the lei stand: “Our various packages include a 24-hour wardrobe rental, two-hour photo shoot with wardrobe changes and 25 professional photos, and a two-hour lei making workshop with one outfit choice and 15 professional photos.” Of course, pretty pua can be added to freshen up the nostalgic looks.
Gift of Thrift
All these ’80s shows making a comeback have us kicking ourselves for not keeping our Cobra Kai tees. Luckily, North Shore shop No. 808 racks up vintage tees and memorabilia from the ’60s, ’70s and bodacious ’80s.
“I’ve been an avid collector since my teens. Some of the first pieces I collected were Mickey Mouse Hawai‘i souvenir tees—I’ll never let them go,” says owner Cappy Esguerra. Minus those Disney discoveries, the shop’s vintage selection is brimming with retro-surf aloha shirts, classic Hawaiian license plates and ol’ school “Hang Loose” tees.
Pre-COVID-19, Esguerra would stalk flea markets all over the country, from Honolulu to Los Angeles to Brooklyn, for her one-of-a-kind finds. “There’s always a good mix at the Rose Bowl; I’ve been going there for years,” she shares. Wherever her goodwill hunting leads, Esguerra stresses, “I focus on all things Hawaiiana first. I’m proud to be born and raised here, and this is my way of celebrating our culture and history.”