Words + photos: Lalaine Ignao
You never know what to expect when entering The Refinery Honolulu (or simply known as The Refinery). This local gift shop offers a variety of products, from stationery to kitchenware to even sunscreen. Customers would need to walk around the shop a few times before seeing everything in the store. Each time, people discover something that they did not notice the first time around.
The Ala Moana location opened on December 10, 2016, marking the company’s third location. People can find the other shops at Kahala Mall and Waikiki Beachwalk. This local gift shop came into establishment in 2015 after the husband and wife owners looked around the island and noticed that although Oahu offers a variety of shops, not one gives people the opportunity to buy anything. The Refinery Honolulu appears as a modern day gift shop, offering a variety of goodies from kitchenware, a women’s section, men section, books, backpacks and everything in between.
During a recent visit to The Refinery Honolulu, the manager, Anela, shared her story with the company as she has worked for the owners for a long time.
“Before working here, I was working in retail for five years. What I like about working for the owners here is that they value customer service.”
She mentions that people do not find a company everyday that genuinely want their customers to have a good experience, whether or not the customer plans to buy something.
“It allows us to really focus on our job here and not worry about ‘Oh, are they going to buy things here?’ We want people to come in here and have a good time, look at the products and have a good laugh at the products.”
Anela’s favorite aspect of the job revolves around the products as The Refinery receives new items every day. The company mainly buys products in the United States, but also offers customers a variety of local products from small businesses here on the island.
Although her specific favorite product varies from week to week, Anela currently enjoys the brand Naked Bee, which sells lip balm, lotion, sunscreen, hand creams and body butters. “I like it because it’s gluten free, no artificial coloring, just all good things. The slogan itself for Naked Bee is ‘All the Good Stuff, None of the Bad Stuff.’”
The biggest takeaway from the Naked Bee products comes from the fact that its sunscreen has zinc as an ingredient because not many sunscreens have it. “It’s very important to have zinc in sunscreen but not many sunscreens have.”
I personally go into the store every time I need or something to make my day. My favorite areas to check out includes the stationery because of the cute journals, as well as the poster sections because of the quotes and various posters of faraway places. Overall, the Refinery provides an open, friendly environment where people can a variety of different products that will make them laugh and smile. Many times, I have come inside the shop and just seeing the different items made my day better. Even talking to the workers makes any customer feel welcomed and loved because of their friendliness.
1263 Hunakai St.
Honolulu, HI 96816
Ala Moana Shopping Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Mall Level 2, Mauka Wing
Honolulu, HI 96814
Waikiki Beach Walk
227 Lewers St.
Honolulu, HI 96815