Business Monday: Fall in love with treasures found at Hilo’s Knickknackery Antiques and Collectibles Hawaiiana

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The Knickknackery Antiques And Collectibles Hawaiiana shop in downtown Hilo has an array of unique items to purchase from all over Hawai’i and the world. Megan Moseley/Big Island Now.

At the Knickknackery Antiques and Collectibles shop in Hilo, patrons are welcomed by 8-foot tall hula dolls made in the 1950s.

They also will see Dorothy Okumoto’s famous plumeria-printed pottery along with some of the oldest ‘ukulele, the first Hawaiian song book and old programs from the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. In the back, there’s vintage kitchenware, old ash trays, clothing, bar items and a music section.

You never know what you will find at Knickknackery Antiques, owned by Keli‘i Wilson and his husband Ray, who stock it with unique heirlooms from Hawai’i and around the world.

“Whether it’s walking into your grandmother’s house or your aunt’s house that was fully eclectic and had all these paintings and wonderful furnishings and all that stuff that interests you as a kid, that’s kind of what I collect and what we procure and we put in our store,” Wilson said.

“There are all these memories of being in Hawai’i and growing up with all the different cultures, from the Portuguese to the Spanish, the Filipino and and the Japanese and the Chinese, all these are tied to items in the store. When you walk in, there’s something for everyone.”


The antique store had been open for 10 years when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, thrusting the world into a health crisis and forcing many government’s — including Hawai’i’s —to shut down their economies to stem the spread of the virus.

The Knickknackery Antiques And Collectibles Hawaiiana shop in downtown Hilo features hard-to-find items such as this Japanese Vanity. Megan Moseley/Big Island Now.

The shutdown forced businesses around the state to close with many never reopening. Wilson feared what would happen to his shop.

But with support from faithful customers and a savvy business pivot to sell online, the antique shop survived.

Customers were supporting the business, telling Wilson to keep selling online, but he said he still wasn’t sure what was to come with the bottom line dwindling and little government financial assistance coming in.

Most federal and state assistance was going towards companies with employees, he said, and their shop was, and is, owner-operated.


But then, out of the blue, two faithful customers that owned businesses in Hilo messaged Wilson and said they had received pandemic checks and wanted to support their favorite small businesses in town, including the antiques shop.

One sent a list of several items they wanted to purchase as Christmas gifts, and Wilson said he delivered it to their house in masks and gloves. Another purchased a special mid-century, 1950s Japanese tea set, the 46-year-old said.

The Knickknackery Antiques And Collectibles Hawaiiana shop in downtown Hilo features a wide-range of collectables such as records, books, and home decor. Megan Moseley/Big Island Now.

The purchases were enough to keep The Knickknackery Antiques and Collectibles store afloat.

“It made me cry so hard because with their purchases I was able to continually pay rent and have my spot even though it was closed,” Wilson said.

Originally located on Kapiolani Street, they reopened at a new location, 84 Ponohawai St., in 2021.


Wilson is Hawaiian and said growing up he had always had an interest in antiques. His aunty gave him an old piece of furniture that he fixed, igniting his love for refurbishing antiques.

The Wilsons started collecting when they were 19. Now they are 46.

The shop’s items are procured from people around the island.

One day years ago the Wilsons were shopping in Honoka’a when a lady offered them space outside of her vintage store every Saturday to sell their antiques.

It proved successful, leading to the opening of their own shop, which has become a place where people from all over the world travel and share their stories and culture through their trinkets.

“I always found that we can find so many different nationality items on our islands because people give up their things,” Wilson said.

“People have been bringing things to Hawai’i because we’ve attracted the world for over a 100 years. A lot of people from other countries have moved here, movie stars and directors or actors and, you know, all different types of people from all over.

“When all those people move over here, they bring the things that that remind them of home or the things that they’ve accumulated from their lifetime.”

But he said often those same people end up falling in love with Hawaiian culture, and would let go of the items they brought over to accumulate Hawaiian-made items.

Keli’i Wilson, owner of the Knickknackery Antiques and Collectibles Hawaiiana, is pictured here at his shop on Aug. 26, 2023. Wilson has been an antique collector since he was 19 years old. Megan Moseley/Big Island Now.

Wilson loves to talk story with his customers and engage with other antiquarians. Often he can be seen weaving lauhala bracelets, a hobby he picked up during the pandemic, and sharing the love of Hawaiʻi’s culture and the history of the crossroads with the world through his shop.

“I think that’s a really special thing about antiques is you will always remember where you bought it,” he said. “You remember the story of the person that saw it and tells you where it came from and where they found it and who owned it before and then.”

Find more information about The Knickknackery Antiques and Collectibles here.

Megan Moseley
Megan Moseley is a full-time journalist for Pacific Media Group. Her experience ranges from long and short-form reporting to print, digital, radio and television news coverage. In Hawaiʻi, she's worked for local media outlets and has covered a wide range of topics including local and state politics, environmental affairs, Native Hawaiian issues, travel, tourism and education. She covers the West for Restaurant Hospitality.

She's a 2010 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Magazine Journalism and specializations in Geology and History. She's currently working on her master's degree from New York University in journalism and is focused on conflict resolution and peace practices in indigenous cultures in the Pacific.

Megan can be reached at [email protected].
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