HONOKOWAI - Binky's is celebrating its second anniversary in Honokowai. Located at 3600 Lower Honoapiilani Road at 5A Retail, the arts, crafts and gift gallery is a treasure chest find on Maui.
The doors opened in July of 2012; and, through the ingenuity of its powerhouse proprietor, Robin Ritchie, Binky's has gained quite a reputation across the globe.
Ariane from Aliso Viejo, California, "Yelped" on the Internet: "Robin, the owner, has a passion for all things Maui and offers an intriguing collection of art and gift items in all price ranges.
"Her gallery," she continued, "is a fun mix of old Hawaiiana, fine original art, imaginative home dcor, stunning jewelry, whimsical gifts and all manner of cool, unique-to-Maui discoveries. I loved the fact that there was a story behind each and every piece; and, whether the gift is for you or someone else, it truly is an authentic little piece of Maui!"
Closer to home, Richie has a following:
"I have lived in West Maui for 35 years, and Binky's is now my go-to shop for all my gift giving needs. I'm a sea glass junkie, and I have never seen such a wide array of beautiful, hand-crafted sea glass jewelry," posted Jennifer from Lahaina.
Crafters revel in her presence as well, especially the knitters.
"We have over 100 skeins of Maui Yarn in stock. Yes, real wool yarn being sold in Maui. There is a whole wall of high-quality, hand-dyed yarn," she said.
They also stock bamboo and metal knitting needles and crochet hooks.
"As a passionate knitter, my favorite item from the store is the beautiful hand-dyed yarn by an artist called Sara (of Maui Yarns). The yarns have fantastic names like 'Mango Wood' or 'Haole Sunburn,' " described Vicki K. from Lahaina.
Ritchie was so inspired with the rainbow of tropical and earthy tones, she coordinated her inventory of buttons and beads with the rich color scheme.
Beads are a specialty at Binky's, along with a huge inventory of charms. Findings to make them into jewelry are in stock, including a variety of cording material, hemp, silk and sterling silver chains and gold.
"We have a menu for beaders to shop from" Ritchie told the Lahaina News, including Maui-made glass lamp work and tagua nut "ivory" beads.
Fellow crafter Bobby Simko works at Binky's two days a week.
"Our collection of charms, I think, is the best on the island. You can't beat the price. People come in here, and they can just pick and choose what charms they want and put together their own bracelet or their own necklace, their own chain," Simko said.
And the hospitality at Binky's is beyond reproach. "We have tools here that we're willing to loan out if they want to work while they're here on their vacation and do something creative, crafty. We just ask them to return them through the mail slot," Simko noted.
"We work with certain specific artists, and they will work in the colors and the size we need. We now have the locally made beads that fit the Pandora system, which is worldwide," Ritchie added.
There is always a crafter on duty to help assemble basic jewelry projects.
Ariane likes this about Binky's: "if you feel inspired to make your own creation, she has all the elements you need to complete your special masterpiece. Whether it's a scarf in Maui Sunset colors or a sparkling sea-glass necklace, Robin is delighted to help you with ideas."
Richie is no stranger to the island retail world and has experienced success over the past 30-plus years she has lived in Lahaina.
The foundation of her work ethic is integrity with a flair, and the Binky clientele swear by this value.
Megan from Colorado is one such customer: "The owner is a super friendly lady who is fun to chat with. She has great ideas if you're looking to create a necklace or piece of jewelry at her store. It's a great place to wander through and to find high-quality jewelry, art, and so much more!"
The gallery of crafter/artists Ritchie represents is eclectic
"I contacted the artist and crafters that were talented but fun," and Ritchie explained that the key word was fun. "Put them together. About 25 people, just set it up and opened the doors."
Ritchie is a retro kind of shop owner, trying to emulate some of the stores she admired "in the day."
"I loved walking through Jack Ackerman's store and remember being greeted at the door of the Gallery Limited by Mr. Morrow in his long sleeve shirts; and right across the street, there were crafters hand-painting on silk clothes, and they were flowing from the wind of the overhead fans," she recalled with nostalgia.
And, she didn't forget the Cigar Brothers (Mike and Berge). "How friendly and funny they were, and they had just mountains of stuff. They were a riot," she laughingly remembered the two men who had a scrimshaw shop in the heart of historic Lahaina and a front row slip in the harbor.
"You always felt welcome," she said.
Ritchie is a vintage collector - old-style aloha shirts, artwork, panama hats, antiques and black coral jewelry.
"The piano key art is the anchor for the store - recycled antique ivory piano keys, hand scrimshaw tattooed, painted, matted and framed," she added.
There's something special in every corner.
It's just all about Maui and art," Ariena described succinctly, "be it original scrimshaw on old ivory piano keys, brilliant colors on canvas, or a fanciful crystal and sea shell chandelier, you will see things here that you will not see in any other store in Maui. And Robin is always on the hunt for new things, so check back often for new items."
Binky's is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.