Field Guide: Antique Stores

Local antique stores are treasure troves of one-of-a-kind finds with a story to tell.

Vintage pinups from Tin Can Mailman

Photos: David Croxford

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,


Madge Tennent on wood

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,


Hanging planter, T. FujiiAntiques

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,


Antique bling from Mellow Antiques

Mellow Antiques

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,


Qing Dynasty Aristocratic dragon robe, c. 1821-1850.

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,


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.