Local businesses help raise awareness of breastfeeding in public

Liz Stephens, Reporter

The owners of two Charleston businesses are working to show that breastfeeding is accepted in their stores.

Bob’s Bookstore at 303 Lincoln Ave. and Home Again Consignment Shop at 830 18th St. were contacted by a local support group for nursing mothers.

The Coles County Breastfeeding support group encourages business owners to show support by posting a sticker on their store’s doors.

This will also let the mothers know the store is breastfeeding-friendly.

Steve Runyon, co-owner of Home Again Consignment Shop, said a representative from the group visited the store and asked if he would welcome breastfeeding.

He said the invitation was part of a movement to normalize breastfeeding in the Charleston community.

The group will also have a booth intended for mothers who need to breastfeed at the 18th Street Farmers Market, which Runyon manages.

“There are mixed feelings about breastfeeding in public, and I think this is awareness rising that it is OK,” Runyon said.

Runyon said this booth would have a canopy tent and a couple of rocking or sitting chairs for women to have a comfortable space to breastfeed while shopping.

He and his wife, co-owner Julie Runyon, both agreed that having the booth space is a great idea on Saturdays during the Farmers Market.

“It was an easy decision for us to say yes,” Runyon said.

Joe and Lisa Judd, who own Bob’s Bookstore, also decided to make breastfeeding welcome in their store after they saw the sticker at Home Again Consignment Shop.

Lisa Judd said after seeing the sticker on Runyon’s desk, she contacted the Coles County Breastfeeding Support group on Facebook and received a sticker immediately.

“I breastfed all three of my kids, and I have never seen a sticker like that in stores,” Lisa Judd said. “Sometimes you do feel funny (breastfeeding) if you are in a public place. Some people are looking at you and you never know if it’s OK or not OK or if they are going to complain.”

Lisa Judd said she has not personally seen any women breastfeeding in the store yet but  knows that the community is aware it is allowed in Bob’s Bookstore.

“I just remember as a breastfeeding mother that it’s nice to know that there are places that say ‘hey, it’s OK if you want to just sit for a minute,’” she said.

Joe said he never knew there were rules for breastfeeding;  he figured it was always welcome for mothers to do.

“Who’s against that? Like who would be offended if there was some fussy baby that needs to be fed?” Joe Judd asked.

Liz Stephens can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].