homepage logo

Robin Ritchie returns to Front Street with new Binky’s location

By Staff | Sep 24, 2015

Kahu Earl Kukahiko (right) leads a Hawaiian blessing for the new Binky’s Arts and Crafts Supply Store at 626 Front St. Store owner Robin Ritchie is pictured at left. PHOTO BY LOUISE ROCKETT.

LAHAINA – With the opening of Binky’s Arts and Crafts Supply Store at 626 Front St. on Saturday night (Sept. 20), Robin Ritchie has returned to Front Street.

A blessing was held at her new location across from Banyan Tree Park, with Kahu Earl Kukahiko performing the Hawaiian ceremony.

It was a festive occasion with friends, family and loyal customers attending the event.

This is Binky’s second location. In July 2012, Ritchie opened Binky’s Honokowai at 3600 Lower Honoapiilani Road near 5A Rent A Space, where she earned accolades from Yelp, The Maui News, Best of Maui and TripAdvisor.

“We will have the two stores for a while. Looking forward to doubling the retail space,” she told the Lahaina News.

A collector of Lahaina memorabilia, Ritchie is no stranger to Front Street, sales and creative marketing. Her history here is rich indeed.

Ritchie came to Maui, she said, “when you still walked on the tarmac (at Kahului Airport), because there were no jet-ways at the airport.”

“When I got here I was certified in teaching power skating to hockey players, was a licensed private investigator and an airline computer ticketing agent,” she said.

“So with variety of skills, I naturally became a harbor rat and worked for Seabird Cruises in Lahaina.”

Those were the days when the Maui Belle was in full swing, and Hop Wo Store was the preferred place to be on early Sunday mornings.

Celebrities entertained at local venues and walked the streets freely, unfettered by their superstar status.

Wooden ships anchored in the roadstead were not an anomaly but part of the Lahaina seascape.

Lahaina was newly designated as a National Historic Landmark, and Ritchie fit in well with her staying power and talent.

She didn’t come here “for just a cup of coffee.”

“In sales, I have sold trips to Hawaii, cruises, fine watches, souvenirs, real estate, jewelry, activities, photography, sea glass, sunglasses, luxury goods and crafts,” she said.

“Working at Lahaina Visitor’s Center and the Lahaina Museum Store gave me the first opportunity to design souvenirs and collaborate with artists and crafters.”

Binky’s is her crown jewel. It’s the sum of her experience on the island and an eclectic mix of fine art, vintage aloha shirts, antiques and island collectibles.

But that’s not all. It’s a trip down memory lane.

“Recently, I purchased the log of daily sales at the (old) Lahaina Store (744 Front St.),” Ritchie continued. “The customer’s name or Bango number and what they purchased in the 1930s are recorded in this ledger.

“People are welcome to read through the beautiful handwriting in the book to look for familiar names and relatives,” like Farden, Aki and Rickard, to name a few, as it will be on permanent display.

Binky’s is also a mecca for island crafters, with a diverse inventory of beads, sea glass, polyester cord, Job’s Tears, silver-plated silver wire, pendants made out of Minnesota stone pipes, original “art jewelry,” shark’s teeth, braided leather necklaces and Maui-dyed yarn galore.

Visit their Facebook page (Binky’s Arts and Crafts Store) for a visual presentation.

Her signature offering, however, is the Piano Key Art.

Ritchie met her Piano Key Art partner, Roger, at the Lahaina Museum.

“He had developed an art form that incorporated recycled piano keys and scrimshaw,” she explained.

“This became a prototype for what evolved into Piano Key Art that combined recycled antique ivory piano keys, scrimshaw tattooing, painting and using museum-grade matting and hand-built frames.”

She noted the historic relevance of the art form.

“Scrimshaw has a huge connection to Lahaina,” she explained, “as the sailors and whalers that visited Lahaina created different forms of scrimshaw to alleviate boredom on their years-long voyages. Museums have purchased custom pieces, and we are part of a world tour of DaVinci’s Machine Exhibit.”

Binky’s has an environmental focus: “We live on an island, and the whole theme of Reclaim, Recycle, Reuse and Repurpose is part of what you will experience at Binky’s in the form of quality gifts and art.”

Ritchie advised, “My store phone number will remain the same, (808) 276-7474. I am encouraging people to phone first while we are renovating and moving.”

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.