‘Friends’ Whittle Out Store Space

Volunteers (from left) Robert Lau, Anna Mistele, Ashlee Grover and Kiyomi Smothermon wave at motorists to bring attention to the new Friends of Hawaii Kai bookstore. Photo by Tony Grillo.

Following a months-long “labor of love,” the Friends of Hawaii Kai Library officially opened their bookstore Aug. 22-24 on the ground floor of the library, and it’s got that true community feeling.

“We saw an open area downstairs that was not being used at all,” said Lillian Yoshimura, “and since we had only two sales a year, we decided to make it year-round for everybody.” They got ideas from visits to the bookstores operated by Friends at the busy Kaneohe and Kailua libraries.Then help and donations started coming in – enough that they were open their doors for business in April.

Volunteer carpenters and artists did their part to enclose and enhance the space, helped by Kaiser High’s Key and Leo club and other students. “People from all over, age 83 to 11, have come to help, and we’ve had a lot of repeaters,” said Yoshimura, Hawaii Kai Community Book Store interim manager.

Many of the informal group’s 30 members are retired teachers, and there’s also a retired principal. In addition, area retirees like to come in to trade for “new” books, CDs, audio books or DVDs among the donated inventory. (Prices range from 25 cents to about $3, with proceeds going to the library.)

But the happiest customers so far, she said, are teachers and parents of little kids. Keiki play groups, care centers and shelters also benefit from bargain-priced inventory that continues to mount.

A Hawaiian blessing Aug. 22 by Kahu Charlie Yabui of Kahalehoano Hou O ke Akua signaled the grand opening, followed by prizes and extended special hours. “We hope to continue to thrive,” the Friends stated on their Facebook page, “so that we are able to circulate books and other materials within the community to be loved and passed around, while helping to support our library’s many programs.”

The bookstore is open from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

For more information, call 348-5034.