Eclectic, Upscale Meet Here

Cindy Johnson
Owner, Island Chic

Please tell us about your business.

Island Chic, located in Puhi, is a very eclectic, upscale second-hand store. People can find everything and anything here. I have incredible lamps, a really cool lighting section, some beautiful jewelry, vintage Hawaiiana, collectibles and antiques. I also have an incredible art collection, about 50 to 60 pieces, including work by island artists. In addition, I have a whole Asian section.

How did you start this business?

I worked at Habitat for Humanity’s thrift store for nine years and so I was already used to the industry. I wanted to do something for myself that was more fun so I looked for a spot and opened this place about a year ago. I had a lot of contacts in the business and I’m drawn to collectibles and antiques. I’ve always been drawn to them since my mom used to take me to stores when I was 5 years old.

How do you find these items?

They are found in a variety of ways. People bring in items to consign that they want to sell. I go estate- and garage-sale shopping. I’ve also bought an entire house full of items when someone was moving. In addition, I have five girls who go out and buy furniture and repurpose it – like chairs from the 1950s.

What is consignment and how does it work?

People get 50 percent of whatever their item sells for. We set the price together. It’s a 90-day consignment. After 30 days, if it doesn’t sell, it goes down 15 percent, 30 more days, it goes down another 15 percent and at the end of 90 days you have to take it back or donate it. Whatever I think will sell, I will take.

What is a favorite object you’ve found?

An antique Chinese calligraphy desk I bought from a friend.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business?

Having somebody find something fantastic that they love at an affordable price.

What’s’ the most challenging aspect of your business?

Paying the rent. It’s also challenging to keep the items fresh as well as finding quality, eclectic items on Kaua’i.

What makes you get up every day and go to work?

Besides money, the hope of finding a treasure that could be on the television program, Antiques Roadshow.

What are some of your plans for the future?

I would like to sell some of my items online. Some of the stuff would sell much better on eBay. I’d also like to double the size of the store and have more beautiful things.

What is the price range of what you sell?

From $5 for Asian dishes and Hawaiian bottles to $5,000 for huge antique pieces.

What’s the most expensive item you’ve sold?

A Stickley table and hutch for $7,000. It’s the best furniture you can buy.

What are the most popular items that sell?

People like the Hawaiiana.

What sets your business apart from others?

The eclectic mix of what’s in here; you can’t find it anywhere else on Kaua’i. The choices that are in here are not available anywhere.