Sole companions

Da Slippah Library for matching single slippers

Kim Thayer is the creator and head librarian of Da Slippah Library, a free slipper exchange in Paukukalo. BRYCE THAYER photos

Ever been stuck with half a pair of rubber slippers?

Maybe one of the straps broke. Or your dog chewed one up. Or someone mistakenly swiped one of yours leaving a party — and unknowingly walked away wearing two different shoes (it happens more often than you might think).

So what can you do with the lone remaining slipper? If you’re in Paukukalo, stop by Da Slippah Library. Quite possibly the first of its kind on Maui, the roadside repository is a matchmaking site for single slippers. The rules are simple: Leave one for someone else to find — or take one to make a half pair whole again.

Paukukalo resident Kim Thayer came up with the idea for Da Slippah Library nearly a year ago. She had accumulated a pile of mate-less slippers: Her two elementary school-aged kids have lost or broken their share and a few of her own had gone missing or were irreparably damaged. Thayer says she couldn’t bring herself to toss out the perfectly good — and in some cases, practically brand new — other halves. So she decided to someday create a neighborhood slipper exchange modeled after the “little free library” book-lending boxes that have cropped up in front yards across the country.

One afternoon last month, Thayer built the slipper-sharing library using parts of an old chicken coop (something else she’d refused to throw away), filled it with her family’s collection of orphaned slippers and attached it to the fence near her mailbox.

Da Slippah Library unites leftover single slippers and puts them back in use.

And then she waited.

At first, there were no signs of activity — other than some curious stares from passersby. But a few days later, Thayer was delighted to discover that two slippers had been anonymously dropped off. Since then, the library has received more donations and several slippers have been permanently checked out.

Thayer’s summer side project appears to have taken on a life of its own. Not long after Da Slippah Library made its debut, she set up Facebook and Instagram accounts to let sole searchers know what’s in stock (she regularly updates both pages and includes cleverly captioned photos). To her astonishment, within a week of its creation, the Facebook page had been shared more than a thousand times.

Thayer recently learned of a newly launched slipper exchange in Kula and couldn’t be more thrilled. She hopes others will consider doing the same in their own neighborhoods.

“What’s most rewarding for me is the thought that slippers are being shared between people in our community, hopefully servicing people in need, bringing some happiness, saving someone’s day and not being tossed needlessly into the rubbish,” she said. “Even if only one slippah finds a new home, I think it’s all worth it.”

If the shoe fits, take it. At this library, there’s no card required, and there are no due dates.

Da Slippah Library is conspicuously located on Ukali Street in Paukukalo. To learn more or to see what’s available, visit www.facebook.com/ daslippahlibrary or www.instagram.com/daslippahlibrary.

* Sarah Ruppenthal is a Maui-based writer. Do you have an interesting neighbor? Tell us about them at missruppenthal@gmail.com. Neighbors and “The State of Aloha,” written by Ben Lowenthal, alternate Fridays.


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