Honolulu is best known for crystal clear beaches and decadent, spam-filled food. However, a small, but robust culture of small, locally-owned shops are popping up in the up and coming Chinatown neighborhood of Honolulu. Much like in San Francisco or Los Angeles, Chinatown is rising from its previous reputation as tourist stomping grounds and becoming the hottest new destination for restaurants and shopping. Right by a classic Chinatown bakery, where pork buns and manapua run rampant, sits a hot new ramen joint, complete with reclaimed wood and exposed brick walls.
Walk a block down and suddenly you’ll find yourself in a tiny but fascinating shopping district, complete with a chocolate factory, home store, jewelry store, and cupcakery. While the exteriors of the stores didn’t particularly stand out, the decor and overall ambiance of many of the stores and their carefully curated goods reminded me of diverse, eclectic, and well, slightly hipster, shopping scene of Portland. Little did I know that after going to Chinatown for lunch, I’d end up spending 2 hours perusing all the small shops and treasure troves dotting the 4 block radius. Check out these six stores that caught my eye with their beautiful interior decor, artisanal goods, and overall chill vibes.
owens & co
Before I stepped into the store, I was already smitten with it. I was immediately struck with a sense of deju-vu, as if I was back at woonwinkel, another favorite home goods store. From baby clothes to colorful beach towels to seashell salt cellars to quirky cards, owens & co is the perfect place to find a gift or accent piece for your home.
The people there are absolutely wonderful as well, so friendly and helpful for us tourists. They also have a wide selection of Honolulu-centric goods, such as palm tree hair ties or palm clutches made from local makers.
When I first stepped in, I wasn’t quite sure if it was a tourist shop due to the prolific amount of beachy hats and Hawaiian shirts, or a modern boutique with local flavor. However, upon closer inspection, I saw that the Hawaiian shirts were no ordinary shirts you found at ABC, in fact they were reimagined to have a modern feel— with a cropped cut and ties at the waist to appeal to a more modern audience. Roberta Oaks carried a selection of true Hawaiian goods that have been refreshed to appeal to those who are looking for “non-touristy” goods.
I ended up purchasing a roundie, which is essentially a round beach blanket. With its bright neon colors and spunky tassels, I couldn’t resist. Can’t wait to share pictures later!
Literally one of the most beautiful jewelry stores I’ve been to. Filled with vintage accents, lush plants, and of course, a highly curated selection of handmade jewelry and accessories. Owner Cindy Yokoyama‘s upbringing in Hawaii definitely is a heavy influence in her work— the vibrant collection gives nod to the colors and natural materials found in Hawaii. (Featured image is from Ginger13).
The macrame found in every corner was also fabulous. I’ve never wanted macrame decor until I came in here.
echo & atlas
Um… Pretty much wanted to take everything off those shelves and bring them home with me. Creamy, neutral ceramics and lustrous lining clothing? echo & atlas pretty much called my name. The store was tightly curated, and I appreciated that it wasn’t overwhelming packed full of kitschy goods. Rather it was the opposite— objects chosen for their individual strength to stand on their own as an accent piece, but also fit the overall palette and theme of the store.
With a name like Fighting Eel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I was pleased to find a bright, airy store full of modern, trendy items at (mostly) affordable prices. To my surprise, some of the bags that caught my eye were actually made by an LA designer I had never heard of. Fighting Eel is also their own brand, started by two local designers. Characterized by bright prints, streamlined shapes, the clothing would be perfect in Hawaii and California.
I’ll start off with this— I went to homecoming twice in the 2.5 days I was in Honolulu. Best described as a modern “urban outfitters meets nasty gal” boutique for men and women, homecoming carries “all the best brands plus tons of other rad shit.” I came out with some rad jewelry, and was tempted to buy allllll of their watermelon and pineapple-themed home goods.
Phew! Did I miss any stores? Let me know what your favorite shops in Honolulu are in the comments below.