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What’s the Big Idea?

A not-for-profit, non-capitalist, and inclusive bookstore offers a safe haven to anyone interested in exploring alternative ideas.  

Big Idea volunteers
Cooperative members Angel Le (left) Shannon Frishkorn (right) serve up coffee and conversation to patrons to Big Idea patrons.

The Big Idea bookstore bills itself as “Your friendly neighborhood radical bookstore and cafe!” a slogan that, like the store itself, is both charming and cheeky. But it’s a slogan that also requires a bit of thought, which is appropriate given the mission of this bookstore.

The big idea behind the Big Idea bookstore is that its merchandise and volunteers all advocate for an inclusive society that is “multicultural, women-positive, queer-positive, class-conscious, and anti-militaristic.” The store’s other big idea is that the business is run on a “directly democratic, anarchist model.”

Big Idea book browsing
A customer browses through the stacks at the Big Idea.

Though anarchy is often equated with chaos, in reality, an anarchist society would likely be ordered along the same lines of the Big Idea bookstore itself. Rather than order being imposed on the workers from managers at the top, the Big Idea is a self-managed cooperative, which means that each of its owners and volunteers has an equal voice in decisions.

The Big Idea stocks hundreds of new and used books, many from hard-to-find radical and progressive presses. It also carries pins, patches, stickers, notebooks, greeting cards, and zines, all of which promote a just, sustainable world and community.

In addition to offering food for thought, the store also offers fare from its socially conscious café, which stocks an assortment of local, organic, seasonal, fair trade, and sustainable food and drink. The café’s menu is vegetarian and includes vegan and gluten-free options. The store also offers café seating and free Wi-Fi.

The Big Idea bookstore is located at 4812 Liberty Avenue and opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Sunday.