Purveying art

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Besides the tools, surfboards, guitars and fishing poles that we usually comment on, Kamaaina Loan is — quietly — the biggest dealer in fine art in Wailuku. Just because we don’t have “gallery” in our name doesn’t mean we are not a gallery.

Over the years, we have handled original Rembrandt etchings, Salvador Dali etc. But most of our paintings, prints, giclees, sculptures and drawings are by local and Hawaii painters and sculptors like the Diana Hansen Young painting of a Hawaiian beauty pictured here.

It may seem a bit incongruous to have fine art next to vintage comic books but that’s part of the fun of being in the pawn business.

#mauiretail #mauipawn #mauiart #mauipainters

Image v. reality

Almost since the Kamaaina Loan blog began, we have been writing about how “Pawn Stars” and other reality programs have tended to improve the public perception of what pawnshops are like. We are all too familiar with the image presented in the old Rod Steiger film “The Pawnbroker.”

genuine

 

Even then – and that was half a century ago –the movie portrayal was far from reality. Just as, when you think about it, the “Big Bang Theory,” the most popular show on network TV, doesn’t provide a realist6ic view of how geniuses live.

So, what are real pawnshops really like?  Are they dark places where thieves slouch in, looking to convert a hot laptop into a couple of sawbucks? Hardly. For one thing, pawnbrokers have embraced technology. Stores are bright and open, so that surveillance cameras can be effective. Most of the nation’s 12,000 pawnbrokers also use technology to record driver’s licenses, serial numbers and other detailed information about both the merchandise they are offered and the customers.

That includes a thumb print.

A scoundrel looking to break the law could hardly leave more evidence if he tried.

Then look at the goods in a pawnshop’s retail department. (Almost all pawnbrokers are also licensed secondhand dealers.) Diamond jewelry, good watches, gold, good guitars. Pawnshop customers are, overwhelmingly, people with jobs and therefore with assets and money to spend.

Most goods in the retail division were not pawns that someone failed to repay. At Kamaaina Loan  And Cash For Gold, redemptions are at an all-time high—90%.

Retail stock (when it is not new, like our Kala ukuleles and some silver jewelry) is good stuff people didn’t want to keep. Maybe they were moving to a different island, or they are buying a better guitar and want to sell us their old one to help pay for the new one.

Or they realized that that designer handbag in the closet hasn’t been used for months because they have a new style that suits them better.

So they sell it to us and we sell it to you.

Maybe, in the movie, Rod Steiger dealt with down-and-outers, but when we take in a designer handbag that cost $2,000 new and that we resell for $800, we are still talking about upscale consumption.

To put it another way, the goods we sell are the same goods that were originally sold at the mall. Just used a little and marked down a lot. And our customers are the same as the shoppers in the mall, just with maybe a sharper eye for a bargain.

 

 

What’s a GG? Why should you care?

Last week, a young man came into Kamaaina Loan with a “diamond” in his hand, and another one in his ear.diamond

He explained that the earring had been his grandmother’s. Now, first, let us say we think it is sweet that a young man would wear his tutu-wahine’s earring. That’s not something that would have happened in the old days.

The stone had fallen out of the other earring of the pair, and he said he wondered: Is this a real diamond?

That was the easy part. Slap the stone under the electronic tester. Nope, not real.

But what if it had been real? That’s when a GG (Graduate Gemologist) is your friend.

That young man’s “diamond” was around a third of a carat, and it would have been worth serious coin if it were also of high quality. Most diamonds we see are, of course, average.

Value is based on the “4 Cs” (cut, color, clarity and carat size); and when you get into the bigger and better stones, a difference of opinion of one grade level can be worth hundreds of dollars. That’s when a GG comes in, and Kamaaina Loan is the only pawnshop on Maui with a GG on staff. (You can see her diploma on the wall at our diamond store at 98 N. Market St.)

The Gemological Institute of America is a non-profit research and educational organization (www.gia.edu). Those certificates are not easily earned.

gia

GGs don’t rely only on experience. They have expensive instruments (colorimeters, powerful microscopes), but when it gets down to it, experience is what counts.

This is even more crucial if the stone in question is “colored” (ruby, emerald, amethyst, and hundreds of others).

So if you want an accurate evaluation, now you know where on Maui you want to go.

 

 

How pawn shops get stuff

On the Kamaaina Loan webcast from First Friday in Wailuku, Jason Schwartz and I tried to explain how pawn shops come by the odd and fabulous things we sometimes get to put on our shelves.

I was concentrating on tools, since in January we usually have some terrific bargains. You see, wives and girlfriends buy their husbands and boyfriends tools for Christmas, but they don’t know what they need, so they end up getting them stuff they already have.

The husbands and boyfriends then sell the duplicates to us, often still in unopened packaging. So akamai toolhounds know to shop the tool store at 50 N. Market St. in the weeks after Christmas for extraspecial bargains.

But today we find an ESPN story about how a pawnshop ended up with something even rarer and more special than a new tool — a Super Bowl ring awarded to someone who wasn’t on the winning team.

It isn’t an especially happy story, since the ring’s owner had to surrender it following a personal bankruptcy, but presumably his creditors got some joy out of it.

But remember, if you need money and want to sell something to your friendly pawnbroker, you don’t have to tell us why. You do have to attest that it is your property and leave your name, address, picture and thumb print, so if you stole it, you’d be pretty stupid bringing it to a pawn shop.

But if you are a little embarrassed — personally as well as financially — we sympathize — but we don’t have to know why, Lots of people tell us anyway, but that’s a topic for another day.

Crazy for love, maybe?

Mooncalf

Mooncalf

I think this guy wanted to be caught:

Police found that the suspect (in a burglary of a Black River Falls, Wis, pawn shop) cut himself on the broken glass and left blood evidence inside the store. Police collected samples of the blood and processed them as evidence, along with the pipe the suspect used to break in.

During the investigation, Black River Falls police developed information about an individual who had been involved in a domestic abuse case who fled on a bicycle outside of the City. It was believed that the same suspect, Colvin, might be involved in both incidents.

Black River Falls police worked with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and found Colvin at the Black River Falls Gaming Casino. Police said Colvin “was wearing a cluster of decorative rings on his fingers and had a fresh cut to his hand.” Colvin was taken into custody and medically treated for his cut hand.

And speaking of burglary, I was looking over the Maui police reports of stolen items taken in burglaries in October. (They give us the list in case someone wants to sell one, which happens but not often.)

It was a short list, which is good. But the number of items that the owner had kept a serial number for was even shorter: One.

Not all burglars are love-stricken mooncalfs who want to be punished like Shane Colvin of Black River Falls. (And that’s Shane Colvin not the singer Shawn Colvin, who in any case is a girl.) Most want to get away with your stuff, and you make their work easier and the police work harder by not recording serial numbers, and taking photographs and putting secret marks on your stuff.

Pawnbrokers do take “reported stolen” lists seriously because in many jurisdictions they take the loss if a stolen item is found in their inventory. But “two old silver coins” — which was on the Maui watch list in September — isn’t helpful.

 

#maui #mauiloan #mauigold

Keeping busy

This morning I went to the breakfast meeting of the Rotary Club of Upcountry Maui, to see two high schoolers receive the club’s Students of the Month awards. They were an impressive pair, and I will relay a little about them in a moment, but what I found noteworthy was the variety (and, apparently, also depth) of the opportunities students have today.

There was nothing close to it when I was in high school, 50 years ago.

Of course, not all students get the same opportunities. Money and transportation would prevent some. Babysitting obligations would stop others.

But the opportunities are there for both private and public school students.

It is nearly impossible, in some circles, to bring up the topic of education without being subjected to a tirade against public schools. And teachers. And unions.

I spent a lot of time on campus when my children were in high school, and what I saw was generally good. Certainly far better than the Catholic school I went to. I do not believe that anyone pushing vouchers has the interests of the students uppermost. And religious schools are, with some but not many exceptions, antieducational.

The selectees were Jamie Gomes from King Kekaulike High and Josh Higa from Kamehameha Schools Maui. As you can see from the photograph, happy-looking kids.

Jamie said she had been thinking of becoming a family physician until attending a boot camp at Berkeley last summer where she observed a knee operation and is now wondering if becoming an orthopedic surgeon wouldn’t be better.

She plays water polo and for her community service requirement has started Operation JAG (Jamie Against Bullying) to go to the community with a message. She would like to attend Oregon State and then Oregon University of Health Sciences medical school.

Josh wants to become a botanist, with an interest in native plants. He’s been learning about the Hawaiian uses of plants as medicine — la’au lapaau. He does judo and runs cross-country and is studying Japanese in school. He has been on reef and park cleaning trips.

He has Northern Arizona and Pacific on his college list.

There were quite a few other items on Jamie’s and Josh’s busy lists, and I asked Josh’s mother Terilyn if she worries about burnout. “Yes,” she said.

But I think the kids will be all right.

How would you use old Maui High?

The county has published a bid notice seeking ideas to “use and repurpose” the old Maui High campus in Hamakuapoko. And please don’t call it H’poko.

What do you think?

For decades after the school closed, it housed the NifTAL agricultural; research project, and the old gymnasium was used as a community dance rehearsal hall until some creep burned it down.

#Mauihigh #mauiland

 

 

Warning to the west side

Have you been following Eileen Chao’s coverage in The Maui News of the plan to close Molokini II, the child/adolescent psychiatric ward at Maui Memorial Medical Center? You should, especially if you live on the west side and fantasize about having an emergency room there, so you won’t have to lose that “golden hour” riding an  ambulance to Wailuku if you have a stroke.

It ain’t ever going to happen, and the reasons are right there in today’s story:

1. Molokini II had 124 patients last year. Considering that psychiatric admissions last only for the acute attack and seldom last more than a few days, that means that much of the time the unit was empty.

Yet it still had to have staff ready around the clock.

There is no adolescent psychiatrist practicing on the island, and not likely to be any time soon either.

2. No other hospital on the Neighbor Islands has an adolescent psych unit.

Now, consider an emergency room. It requires, at the barest minimum, 5 ER physicians, one for each 8-hour shift each weekday and 2 more to cover weekends, vacations etc.

Plus nurses and other helpers.

Most of these cannot be used on other tasks whenever there isn’t an emergency case, because they have to be ready to respond STAT as you have seen so often on the TV doc shows.

But there won’t be many patients from the west side, and if you have been around ER physicians you’ll have noticed that they are not shrinking violets. They are not going to sit around playing hanafuda waiting for the next big car crash (and how many of those does Lahaina generate? not even one a day).

If you have a condition requiring Level 3 care, you’ll have to leave Maui anyway.

As medical care gets more complicated and equipment becomes more specialized and expensive, economic factors force concentration. Health treatment is not immune to the same forces that have closed down full-service gas stations in favor of gasoline0-dispensing stations one place and car repair shops somewhere else.

There are other reasons the west side (or South Maui) will never have an ER but those are sufficient; we don’t need to go any further.

#mauihospital #westmauihospital #mauimedical

 

 

Old bugbears

wind

It is amusing to watch Mauians, even newcomers, rushing to stock up on rice and toilet paper in anticipation of storms Iselle and Julio.

Buying bottled water makes no sense either.

Batteries, yes. Tank of gas? Half a tank ought to be plenty for most people. Cash? Maybe, where are you going that you will be spending money? If it really does rain 4 to 8 inches Thursday and maybe again Sunday, I am not going anywhere except in an emergency. Nor will I be calling for pizza delivery.

It’s been over 20 years since we’ve experienced a big storm and nearly that long since even a moderately big one. With a population turnover in the neighborhood of 4% a year, probably half the people on Maui (not counting the tourists) have never been through even the outliers of a hurricane.

Stocking up on TP has more to do with memories — second hand at that for most people — of dock strikes over 60 years ago. Distribution methods have changed a lot since, and a TP or rice famine is hard to take seriously now.

But rushing to the stores to stock up doesn’t hurt anybody and probably has more to do with socializing than real preparedness. It gives people a chance to ask each other if they are being prudent and to reassure themselves that, 1) it won’t be that bad; and 2) they’ve done what they can (short of offering a bed indoors to a homeless person, something I haven’t seen or heard any concern about, although the shelterless are one group that could have a rough time even if Iselle arrives as nothing much more than a winter windstorm).

Sustained winds of 55 mph, if that’s what we are going to get, are no scarier than the usual winter nights, where 60 is common.

Should either storm turn out much worse than current forecasts (always possible, remember that the Butterfly Effect means that forecasts more than 5 days out are pretty much imaginary), or if you have the rotten luck to have a tree fall on your car in even a moderate blow, make sure your insurer will honor its contract.

After Iniki, a lot of people on Kauai and Oahu got stiffed. Amongst all the precautions I have seen being passed around, no one has mentioned that one.

And bottled water. Fill a jug from the faucet. County water is just fine.

Feel like Chinese tonight?

 

chrysanthemum

So, we were talking about places to eat on Maui, and one among us said, “Do you realize that since Dragon Dragon closed, there are no Chinese restaurants on Maui?”

At least, not outside West Maui and Kihei. China Boat has been around nearly 25 years, serving a fairly limited menu of Chinese Mandarin dishes, like Mongolian Beef and Mu Shu Pork. But it is remarkable that on a tourist island like Maui, one with a long local Chinese tradition to boot, that there are so few Chinese restaurants and such a limited cuisine among the few that remain.

In a similar sized tourist mecca on the Mainland, you’d likely have to choose among Hunan, Sichuan, Canton and maybe Fujian styles. Here, ever since Golden Jade closed, it’s been all downhill.

In Central Maui, there are a couple of “Chinese” restaurants, including a new one, Dragonfly on Lower Main, which has a few dishes, like Mu Shu Pork, and, unusually and from the opposite end of the scale, Egg Fu Young.

So, yes you can sort of get Chinese food on Maui. But what about the rest of the tourism business?

Stella Blues is gone. The Sugar Cane Train is going. Yet tourism headcounts are supposed to be high if not growing. This is not the economic atmosphere in which you expect old-established businesses like Stella’s or the LK&P to be shutting down.

#mauitourism #mauidining

chrysanthemum