A book store staffed by people diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum is believed to be the first of its kind in New Brunswick.

The Book Nook opened for business this week, offering thousands of books for sale. All of its staff members are people with autism.

"We think this is the first of its kind in New Brunswick for sure because this is an entrepreneurial activity," said Lila Barry of Autism Resources Miramichi Inc.


Ricky Barry is happy to get a chance to prove himself by working in the Miramichi Book Nook, which started as an initiative of the Autism Resources Centre Miramichi Inc. (CBC)

"This is not just, you know, saying we're going to get out and get a job," she said. "These young men were there from the beginning of the process to the end of  the process, so all the planning, organizing, and the hard work that went into this, they were very much part of it."

The idea for a book store came from a student at the resources centre who envisioned a book store run by his peers, giving them a place to work on their skills and a job to call their own.

"The chance to get to meet new people," is something Ricky Barry likes about working in the Book Nook. "You know, I'm a people person. I like to gain new experience and be able to prove to myself and others that I'm independent and able."

Customers are responding with sales of more than $400 in the first week.

"They're surprised at how well the bookstore looks and how many books we sell, and how professional it is," said Joey Cook.

hl-joey cook

Joey Cook is one of the workers at the Miramichi Book Nook. (CBC)

Organizers asked for donations from the community and received more than 10,000 books.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe we would get this many books … that the community was so supportive," said Lila Barry. "I'm just absolutely floored and so grateful to the community.

"So Miramichiers are very, very giving people. That's all I can say."

The March of Dimes is funding the project, but the Book Nook aims to be a finally viable business.