The Unity on Union Bookstore — a recovery store and meeting place just a block from Uncle Ike's pot shop and a liquor store — is holding a fundraiser Oct. 1 to keep recovery alive in the Central District.
Business is thriving at the corner of 23rd and Union, where Uncle Ike’s has been leading the state of Washington in cannabis retail sales to the tune of $1.4 million a month.
But the business of recovery hasn’t been as brisk at the Unity on Union Bookstore, which sits just a block and a half to the east of Uncle Ike’s.
After six years, owner Carol Latimer has received non-profit status for the place. The books will still be sold, but she has established a board to oversee operations of the building, which includes three living units reserved for people who have been sober for at least six months; and the main store, where some 400 people a week attend Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon, Gamblers Anonymous and other recovery meetings.
On Sunday, October 1, Latimer is hosting a fundraiser with a $500,000 goal to buy the building. The event runs from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., and will feature guest speakers from the recovery communities that call Unity on Union home. All are welcome, and those who can’t attend can donate online.
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“I want to invite the public at large who is not in recovery, but affected by addiction just the same,” Latimer said. Nearly 21 million Americans struggle with substance addictions, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Surgeon General. That’s more than the number of people who have all cancers combined.
Latimer knows the support and funding is out there. A recent fundraiser for The Recovery Cafe got funding not only from attendees, but was sponsored by the deep pockets of Amazon and Vulcan; and Residence XII in Kirkland, a recovery center for women, raised $135,000 at its annual fundraiser last year.
Why not the same support here, within steps — pun intended — of the biggest pot store in the city?
Latimer reached out to Ian Eisenberg, the owner of Uncle Ike’s, who came down for coffee one recent morning. She showed him a Power Point presentation about her mission, then asked him for a donation.
“He doesn’t owe me anything,” Latimer said of Eisenberg. “But I think we can help each other.”
Unity on Union opened in 2011 in response to two events: The closing of the Twelve Step Shop on Phinney Ridge; and Latimer’s meeting a woman who was living in “clean and sober” housing that was anything but. She bought and remodeled the building at 2420 East Union Street (it was zoned as mixed use) and opened the store.
She feels like she’s at the intersection of addiction and recovery, what with Uncle Ike’s and a liquor store right up the street.
“I’m about to find out if the recovery community is going to support this mission,” she said, as much as the regular community does the others.