A World Of Hand-crafted Treasures

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - December 07, 2005
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Carol Krajchir in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on a buying trip
Carol Krajchir in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on a
buying trip

Richard Krajchir and his wife Carol eagerly await the opening of their second Pacific Orient Traders Honolulu showroom in Iwilei, which will add another 5,000 square feet of home-decoration accessories that reflect their love of unique antique furniture in an “East Meets West” way. The new digs has a tentative soft opening in January.

“This is a hobby that’s turned to a business,” says Richard, a collector who started with antiques from Japan in the 1960s.

The 2,000-square-foot showroom at the Gentry Pacific Design Center, which opened seven years ago, carries furniture from China including Buddha statues, teakwood dining tables, fabrics, textiles, armoires, medicine chests, cabinets, chairs, screens and accessories. The store also features finds from many places, such as Malaysia, India and Thailand. Store manager June Rees is one of six employees who oversee the shop which caters to the public and is frequented by interior designers. Some of the rare finds are an eight-foot-tall gold gilded sideboard and a painted elmwood nine-foot sideboard. The shop has been in several magazines: Architecture Digest, In Touch Weekly, Style
at Home
, Time Out New York and Travel & Leisure. Carol says celebrities such as Lost star Terry O’Quinn, who plays John Locke, and Ted Danson have bought items from the store.

A native New Yorker, Richard lived in Guam for more than 38 years and has traveled the world while he was involved in several types of businesses including product development for Duty Free Shops. When Richard was in Hong Kong, he visited a small store that had some furniture pieces that he says he fell in love with.

He shipped a couple small containers of the furniture to Guam to sell which, he says, “was very exciting.”

Later on, one of his friends, who was a senior executive at First Hawaiian Bank, talked Richard into opening a showroom in Honolulu. Richard had a home in Kailua and had worked with the Duty Free Shops here, so he was open to the idea. With the success of the Honolulu location, the Krajchirs also opened a 6,000-square-foot emporium in Carol’s home country of Canada in a “yuppie” part of Vancouver five years ago. Last year, the Hawaii Kai and Vancouver residents branched out with a 7,000-square-foot venue in Los Angeles.

In China, the Kajchirs have their own finishing shop to repair and restore the unique finds. Carol says one of the challenges they face is the restoration of some of the pieces. To overcome that, they asked one of their employees to train under the Chinese craftsmen to learn firsthand how to restore the ancient cultural pieces. With this knowledge in hand, that employee travels to Vancouver, Los Angeles and Honolulu to make repairs.

In addition, the Krajchirs set up road shows in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona. They also wholesale to Chicago.

Carol, who has worked in the travel industry, notes that the pieces are often multi-functional.

“I love the craftsmanship of the Chinese,” Carol explains. “You’ll never find two pieces that are exactly the same. I so appreciate the uniqueness of it and the individuality of it.”

Pacific Orient Traders is located at Gentry Pacific Design Center at 560 Nimitz Highway. The hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closed on Sunday. The second showroom is scheduled to open in January at 720 Iwilei Road. For more information, call 531-3774 or log onto www.pacificorienttraders.com

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