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Koehnen’s Furniture Closing After 8 Decades

Posted October 9, 2012, 05:44 PM HST Updated October 10, 2012, 01:22 PM HST
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Koehnen’s grand opening in 1957. The company, whch opened in 1929, bought the Hackfeld building at the corner of Kamehameha and Wainuenue Avenues and has been in operation there ever since. File photo courtesy of Koehnen’s Interiors.

Koehnen’s Interiors, a fixture of Hilo Bayfront for more than eight decades, has announced it will close its doors before the end of the year.

The family-owned store, at one time considered the “Tiffany’s” of Hilo, has sold fine furniture and home décor since 1929. Its last day of business is Dec. 15.

Karyl Franks, the granddaughter of Koehnen’s founder Freiderich Wilheim “Fritz” Koehnen, said the family felt it was time.

Company founder Fritz Koehnen came to Hilo from Germany in 1909 to work for H. Hackfeld Company (which later went on to become Amfac, one of the so-called “Big-Five” corporations in Hawaii.)

In 1929 “Fritz” Koehnen and his wife, German-born Katherine Bocker, bought Hill Optical. They shut down the optical operation and started selling silverware, fine china, crystal and giftware as F. Koehnen Ltd.

Their daughter, Helie, who worked at the store from a young age, married and eventually her husband Carl Rohner joined the company after World War II. It was Carl who developed the furniture operation for the company in 1946.

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In 1957 the company bought the Hackfield building at the corner of Kamehameha and Wainuenue avenues in downtown Hilo and the store has called the building home ever since.

In the late 1960s F. Koehnen Ltd. spun off its retail operation, which was renamed Koehnen’s Inc., leaving F. Koehnen Ltd. in charge of real estate holdings.

Over the years Koehnen’s expanded with locations in Kona and Waimea, which have since closed.

Today, Fritz and Katherine’s son Fred, now an octogenarian, is still president of F. Koehnen Ltd. and Helie is president of Koehnen’s Inc. Carl and Helie’s daughter, Karyl Franks, is vice president of Koehnen’s Inc. and oversees daily operations of the company.

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