The Peace Nook promotes nonviolent, equal future

This basement store downtown has an important message.

Follow the rainbow and peace flags flying on Broadway, and head downstairs to The Peace Nook, an underground nonprofit shop with an important message of peace, equality and sustainability for all.

“Our mission is to promote economic and social justice,” said Mark Haim, who has been with the Nook and its parent organization, Peaceworks, since its beginning.

The Nook has a huge variety of products, too many to name. A large part of their stock is books on over 20 topics, which are named on slips of paper taped to the shelves. They also have a program where customers can use a “book credit” toward a free book after buying 10 books.

“We sell relevant books that deal with sustainability, lots of approaches to inner peace,” Haim said. “There’s also a strong component of holistic health in the bookstore, like dealing with how to prevent disease or how to take care of yourself.”

In addition to the books, the Nook also stocks clothing, decorations, tapestries, carvings, soaps, candles, incense, bumper stickers, T-shirts and more. Toward the back, there’s also a section geared toward kids that consists mostly of books.

“There’s no other place in town where you’ll find as many progressive stickers and buttons,” Haim said.

Because it is a nonprofit store, the Nook charges no tax, according to its website.

“We don’t mark things up as much,” Haim said. “Often we sell below the suggested retail price.”

Lots of snack foods, many of them organic, have shelf space within the Nook. There are sodas with cane sugar, protein and granola bars and a whole bunch of other types of drinks and snack foods. It’s a good place to grab something out of your normal snacking comfort zone.

“We’re also a convenience food store where people can come in and grab snacks if they don’t feel like paying an arm and a leg,” Haim said.

Many of the products sold there are fair trade, which is “a way of doing business that’s more fair to workers,” said staff member Kim Dill. One of Dill’s responsibilities in the Nook is ordering the fair-trade items, which can include wind chimes, clothing, hats, decorations, knick-knacks, bags, headbands and others.

“Fair trade kind of takes the place of sweatshops,” Dill said. “It has checks in place so we know people are being paid fair wages and have good conditions.”

The Nook is always taking volunteers to help its five permanent staff members, including Dill, run the store, according to their website. As little as a couple hours a week is always welcome.

“I’m so appreciative of the wonderful people who volunteer, both now and over the past 26 years,” Haim said. “We have always relied on volunteers. We’ve been through hard times, but the community has always stood behind us and given their support.”

The Peace Nook’s community of activism extends outside of the store. The store is “a community-based resource center operated by Peaceworks,” according to its website. Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, founded in 1985 and originally known as the Columbia Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign in 1982, is an organization with a mission of an equal, peaceful and sustainable future.

“It started as a nuclear disarmament group, but became more of a peace organization,” Haim said. “A large portion of what we do now is [climate-related].”

Whatever net proceeds the Nook makes also go toward Peaceworks' educational programs, such as its Sustainability Fair and the Earth Day celebration, held with the Earth Day Coalition.

The Peace Nook and Peaceworks have had a long history of promoting their message and trying to make people a little more aware of what can be done to change the world. With continued support, they’ll keep going for as long as possible.

“If people are concerned about peace or social justice, or any of the things we’re involved in, they can always come here,” Dill said. “We would love to have more people involved in what we’re doing.”

Find the Peace Nook at 804-C E. Broadway, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

Edited by Katie Rosso | krosso@themaneater.com

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