07 Aug

Shop Hopping on Oahu

Warning: this is a long post, but if you’re interesed in fabric shopping on Oahu, it’s definitely worth the read.

I went out for some embroidery floss this morning and came back with an armload of quilty/crafty supplies.

My first (and originally planned, only) stop was Fiddlesticks. I needed a variety of lorikeet colored floss for my next 12×12 project and Fiddlesticks is really the only place on the island for anything other than DMC. The shop is primarily for cross stitch, but they stock such gorgeous silks and wools and glittery things, in addition to the stranded and perle basics, that I can’t imagine any stitch lover not enjoying the shop. Oh, and right now they have $5 grab bags. Mine had wool and cotton flosses and five cross stitch patterns which I think is pretty darn good for the price. Too bad I don’t really cross stitch. The ladies there are quite friendly too. I brought my partially completed quilt to match color and everyone oohed and awed; and then asked if I was participating in the quilt shop hop this weekend. Ooops, I had forgotten.

Each summer the quilt shops on the island band together for a shop hop two weekends in a row. One could hit all the shops in one day, like I did, but it’s nice to have the option of taking a more leisurely pace. I’ve never done a shop hop on the Mainland, so I have nothing to compare this with, but it seems well organized and fun. Customers get a booklet with participating shops, and a stamp card (passport) at the first stop to get stamped at each store. At the end of the hop, full stamp cards get gathered and random winners are drawn to win prizes like gift certificates, fat quarters or even a new sewing machine! Each shop has special sale prices and a free quilt block pattern. I doubt that I’ll make a quilt with any of the patterns, but somehow, seeing each store’s contribution to the collection was fun and there seemed to be a kind of celebratory mood overall.

So, I figured, as long as I was in town already, and hubby had the kids, I might as well join in and visit the stores.

My first official stop was a half mile from Fiddlesticks at Bernina of Hawaii. This store is primarily about the machines, but they do have a decent supply of threads and some fabric. They hold regular classes and have a mechanic on-site. No one can compare to my Renate in Germany, but this store is OK. I had ordered the needle punch attachment for my Bernina over  the phone, so I took this opportunity to check out the parts they did have in stock and see how long it would be until the other part arrived. I had a nice chat with manager Trish and showed off my half-done lorikeet quilt. I think they could use more examples of how people use their Berninas, and I could be a part of that….

Next stop was to US Sewing and Vac around the corner. I’d never been there before and was surprised to see that they had a largish selection of thread and fabric. Nothing that was up my alley, but good to know that it’s there. They are the place to go for your Singer or Viking machines. I bought vacuum cleaner bags.

New Home was stop number three. Owner Ed has endeared himself to the entire Hawaii Quilt Guild. His tiny shop specializes in Janome machines but has other stuff too. Essentially though, I think that it’s his friendliness and helpfulness that have earned him a loyal customer base (or maybe it’s that faint Swiss accent). Unfortunately, I’m not in the market for a new sewing machine (unless I add a serger to the stable) so I don’t give Ed much business. I did buy a nice heavy thread cone stand and two spools of King Tut for an upcoming quilt.

Several miles further on King street is Kuni Island Fabrics. I don’t visit Kuni often since it’s not in my regular geographic circle. They don’t have a lot of fabrics either, but they do have many loyal customers. I think what owner Terry’s (ooh, I hope I’m remembering her name right) got is a lovely boutique . She’s got a lot of patterns, mostly for bags, but also for clothing and quilted items. She’s also filled the shop with unique and colorful finished products. There are classes, and I think the shop is well connected to the community and the quilt guild. I think Terry organized the shop hop too. If so, kudos! I bought a cute little tissue holder for my purse. In addition to the free shop hop pattern, I was also given a little bottle of cold water — perfectly thoughtful considering shop hoppers would be driving around on a hot day. Again, kudos.

Then it was off to my favorite neighborhood. Kaimuki has that college vibe, and there’s not one, but two wonderful quilt/fabric stores. First is my usual stop, Kaimuki Dry Goods. They cater to sewers too and have a large (for Hawaii) selection of everything. All those hip new fabrics on the internet? Yep. Awesome Japanese home decor fabric? Yep. Kona cottons in every solid imaginable? Yep. Two aisles devoted to batiks? Uh huh! I hate going to different places for different things, so this is my one stop fabric shop for my every whim except thread. The only drawback is that I don’t always get a welcoming vibe there. The more I go though, the more I think it is just an age and cultural thing. The majority of ladies working there are older and asian and I think that they just approach things differently than a much younger Mainlander. I will fogive them this because they have free parking and what I think is the best fabric selection on the island. I used my 20% off coupon (the only shop in the hop that required a coupon to get the hop sale price) to buy a yard of Echino fabric that will be great for a bag, but is normally more money than an impulse buy will allow.

Up the street is The Calico Cat, a teeny place with crappy parking, but jam packed with fabrics. I want to buy everything just to make sure the shop stays in business. Carol, the owner, is so lovely and will often special order notions and other supplies. She carries my favorite Quilter’s Dream Cotton batting and has some felting and arty supplies. If I had to commit to patronizing only one shop, I think Calico Cat would be it even if it doesn’t have quite the breadth of fabric as Kaimuki Dry Goods. I like it’s funky, arty side and I like Carol’s taste in fabrics. Batting was in stock today, so I bought enough for a bed quilt. Because of the shop hop, Carol had cookies and chocolate covered kona coffee beans on offer for customers. Win!

Back out in the neighborhood is a Bead It! which, though not my favorite bead shop, had the right location today. I bought simple seed beads for the lorikeet quilt. FYI, Bead Gallery around the corner from Bernina of Hawaii, and Bella Beads tie the for bead shops I’d make special trips to. Back in Kaimuki, there’s a toy shop my kids love (lots of Pokemon) and lots of places to eat. The surrounding area is also home to the Kahala Mall and KCC, a beautiful college which hosts a wonderful farmer’s market every Saturday morning. Not to mention that Oahu landmark Diamond Head is right there. I think I could love Kaimuki.

From Kaimuki, on the far side of Honolulu from my house, I hopped on the freeway to head home. Just west of Pearl Harbor, I stopped at The Quilt Hut, which is tucked away in an unassuming looking industrial complex. I think The Quilt Hut may suffer from being off the beaten track because it has the reputation of not moving stock. This is too bad because while it doesn’t have quite the range of fabrics as Kaimuki Dry Goods, it’s not half bad either.  It’s clean and bright and easy to find things, plus they sell my favorite Roxanne needles, there’s a nice classroom in the back, and they offer Longarm quilting service. It’s a LOT closer to my house, so just that in itself should make it a great shop. I think they could have a blowout sale of the current stock, buy a bunch of fresh looking Free Spirit and Alexander Henry fabrics and use the classroom to court the young sewists on the island and nearby military spouses. This would be the perfect shop to have their own special fabric like Quilt Passions in Kona on the Big Island has. Just saying. (BTW, Lizzy House had a good presentation at one of the Quilt Festivals regarding the next generation of quilt shop customers). Anyway, I did my part and bought four fat quarters to use as examples in my next class at the park. I also received a free fat quarter as my shop hop purchase prize. OK, brownie points for that!

Not playing in the shop hop, but also in the industrial complex on Hekaha Street is Fabric Mart. This is the place to go for Hawaiian print cloth. The novelty hasn’t yet worn off on me, so I have all kinds of fun browsing here. They have pillow forms and trim and a wide variety of dressmaking and upholstery fabrics too. Their non-aloha print cotton fabrics tend to be low quality and boring deigns though, so I skip that area. Customer service is also hit or miss. Fabric Mart is a chain of sorts and also has location in town and on the Windward side. My favorite though, is the location in Kahului on Maui. It’s just cleaner and more organized, which adds immensely to my shopping experience. Back on Oahu, in the same row of shops as Quilt Hut, is Tracy’s Yarn. I went in expecting a knitting store, but it’s all about making sewn, knotted, or crocheted lei. I wish I had a need for everlasting ribbon lei because the possibilities are amazing. I marvel at Tracy’s handiwork on the walls. You gotta love a place where you can buy jumbo ric-rac not by the yard, but by the big-a** spool. It’s not all crafty stuff at the industrial park though. In fact, most of the shops are actually of the car detailing, stereo pimping, asian accessories, wholesale type. Hubby got a dent in his baby fixed there. We bought my daughter a bike for her birthday there. The Goodwill there has potential as well. And, last, but not least, it’s where our Taekwondo/kickboxing school used to be. So it seems to me, if you want it, it’s probably at the end of Hekaha Street, which even offers a nice view of Pearl Harbor.

OK, one more stop to fill my shop hop stamp card. US Sewing and Vac in Pearl City. This is the closest place to my house and has no fabric at all. Bummer. They specialize in machine embroidery. Quilt Guild members tend not to go here at all, but there is always a clatch of ladies every time I go and I get the impression that they hold a fair number of classes on embroidery and that there’s a core group that just likes to come and hang out and work on projects. I tend to buy thread and vacuum cleaner bags there. They are obviously affiliated with the shop in Honolulu of the same name, but I think that Bernina of Hawaii is also under the same umbrella of ownership. Rosie, the manager, can be hard sell, but I do think she means well. When I mentioned off-hand that I would be teaching beginning sewing and patchwork at the local park, she was eager to get a flyer or info that she could pass on to interested customers since she really focuses on the embroidery angle. I bought wash away stabilizer to support the shop hop.

So, if you’re on Oahu next weekend, I encourage you to join in the fun and try teh shop hop out yourself. If you just come to visit or are new to the area, I hope my comments are helpful. And, if there is a shop hop in your area I hope you can get out and support it.