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In the closet, please, if the shoe fits

The other day as I was looking at how many shoes and boots we have managed to cram into a vertical storage unit in our back hall, I wondered: How can three people -- none a passionate collector of shoes -- own so much footwear?

I looked at the inventory: Storm boots, snow mocs, loafers, sneakers, rain boots . . . It must, I figured, have much to do with living in a cold climate. And needing different types of footwear for different activities.

In our house, sneakers come in three sizes -- small, medium and large. There are sneakers for running, aerobics, taking long bicycle treks and more. There are sneakers that are missing their laces, and sneakers that don't require laces at all. There are sneakers with sparkly embellishments and sneakers with blinking lights. There are at least three pairs of canvas Keds -- all mine -- that look exactly the same, and that is to say not so pristine anymore.

That's part of the problem. A pair of, say, everyday sneakers begins to look pretty ratty. Too ratty to wear for running errands on the weekend. So a new pair comes into the house, but the old ratty ones remain.

The thinking: They are perfect for yard work, cleaning the basement, sweeping the porch.

And we haven't even gotten to the boots yet. We all own a pair of the sort of slip-on snow mocs you see in the Lands' End catalog. These are ideal for days when it's slushy or there's a dusting of snow. They also are good for when you are feeling lazy -- or the school bus is rolling down the street. You just pop them on and go.

In addition, our inventory includes heavy duty lace-up storm boots, dressy boots, boots with faux fur linings, hiking boots and our daughter's bubble gum pink rain boots that go by the cute name, puddle stompers.

I also own two pairs -- one high, one low -- of L.L. Bean-style leather-and-rubber boots that date back to college. They were essential for treading across the snowy campus then, and they occasionally come in handy now. They are virtually indestructible, so they remain.

All this footwear has to be stored. Even though there are places in the basement, garage and closets for the various types of shoes, somehow it all ends up in the back hall.

But, at something like 4-by-4 1/2 feet and an entrance door to the garage to contend with, space in that back hall is tight, very very tight.

That's why, several years ago, I invested in white laminate stackable vertical storage organizers -- each with three shelves that can be used for stashing anything, including shoes. Each stands 31 inches tall, and the shelves are 11 or 12 inches or so wide and deep. We stacked two of them.

Surely, this will do it, I said.

Wrong.

And that is not including the shoes and boots that get deposited in the back hall on a daily basis. Nagging time.

"Please don't take your sneakers off like that," I'll say to my daughter for the 112th time. Like many kids, she removes her sneakers not by untying them and neatly placing them on a shelf (if she can find an empty space, that is), but rather by taking the toe of one sneaker to the heel of the other, shoving them off and leaving them in the middle of the floor. With the double knots still in them, the sneaker backs smooshed down.

Even though I know the sneakers will remain as warm weather arrives, I also know that soon the winter boots will be packed away until next year. And that is a good thing.

We have to clear some shelf space. It's almost flip-flops season.

e-mail: smartin@buffnews.com

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