Buying a special gift for someone (or just something fun for yourself!) brings a rush of warm feelings, and it’s even more satisfying when your purchase helps someone in need. Proprietors of The Nook, a new clothing, gift and accessory store in Ladue, are banking on that idea—and so far it’s working, according to founder Mary Lemkemeier. She and business partner Laura Goodloe debuted the volunteer-operated shop in February, and all profits from its sales benefit St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Lemkemeier says the funds support the hospital’s Child Life Services program, which focuses on making medical care more positive and manageable for young patients. “There are services like playroom and schoolroom facilities, music and art therapy, a summer camp for heart patients, clown doctors, and child life specialists who work with kids to make hospital stays easier,” she notes. “It’s not just about treating illness or injury; it’s the hospital’s way of paying attention to the child as a whole person.” Lemkemeier says she, Goodloe and staff launched the store as a way of combining their desires to build the community and help young people.
The Nook offers merchandise from 80 vendors, including international companies and Missouri businesses. “Area artisans make up about one-third of our supplier list,” Lemkemeier explains. “We sell items like locally produced honey, decorative glassware, woodwork, coasters, pens, bowties and shoelaces. We have clothing for men, women and children and jewelry, too. The store even features kid vendors—there is a young lady showcasing her jewelry here, and we sell tennis shoes and shirts decorated by students.”
The unique shop also hosts community outings and serves as an event space for adult and children’s classes, parties and other activities. The year-round fun includes field trips, a book club, puzzles for guests to borrow, and special speaker presentations. “We recently had a trip to the Baisch & Skinner floral wholesaler to learn about flowers, and we’ve done an Eat Outside Your ZIP Code event to introduce people to new restaurants,” Lemkemeier says. “We’re planning a visit to Forest Park to learn about plants that attract butterflies.” There is even a kids-only ‘secret room’ at the store that she says young visitors will want to experience for themselves.
“Another important reason our shop exists is to build community,” Lemkemeier explains. “Many friendships are made here, and lots of fun is had by all. And we’re always looking for dedicated volunteers to teach classes, lead trips and engage with the community. We say thank you for supporting St. Louis Children’s Hospital to every customer who comes in, and if they walk out with a smile, we know we have done something right.”
The Nook, located at 9794 Clayton Road, is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Visit the store online at thenookstl.org.
Pictured at top: Mary Lemkemeier, founder of The Nook
Photo: Bill Barrett