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Good vibes all around at the Peace Compound

Good vibes all around at the Peace Compound

The Youngs Peace of Wood OCNJ

OCNJ’s Peace of Wood as featured in OC Mag’s Shop Talk

ON THE 300 block of West Avenue tucked in between a two-level duplex and a local service shop is Peace of Wood. This one-story white cinderblock storefront has teal accents, a colorful wooden bike rack and a paint-splattered picnic table out front.
A self-described community space with a DIY attitude, Peace of Wood was built with the intention of equality for all who enter through its doors, as a place for people to feel free to be themselves creatively, musically and spiritually.
“It’s a space to come, relax, take a step back and connect with others,” co-owner Kristina Young explains.

Peace of Wood OCNJ
Peace of Wood OCNJ

What they offer

Peace of Wood is far from a cookie-cutter retail shop. If you’re looking for a freshly waxed and sealed tile floor with pristine white walls covered with mass produced art for sale and shirts with Shore-esque puns then you’re in the wrong place. Not in a bad way, there are different strokes for different folks, but Peace of Wood is one-of-one.
“We’re built from the ground up,” Kristina said. “Grass roots, creaky floors. It’s vintage. Not everything is perfect, but it gives the shop character. It makes everyone feel comfortable.”

Peace of Wood interior OCNJ
Peace of Wood interior OCNJ

Filled with joy (and art!)

Peace of Wood is filled with vibrant, joyful artwork for sale from Kristina and many other artists. There is equally cool clothing and accessories, art prints and mugs, driftwood sculptures and a bevy of one-of-kind, feel good finds. It caters to the tiniest of artists with kids paint jams and paint parties. It welcomes artists of all ages to come create. Musicians can showcase their talents within the shop’s walls. It’s artsy. It’s fun. It’s community.
“It feels like home,” Kristina said. “That comes from the energy we put into it.”
The “we” is Kristina and her equally creative husband, Marshall. The duo run Peace of Wood together.
This little shop with a big heart in the middle of West Avenue is genuine. Genuine because it is an honest-to-goodness story of two people who put their lives into the shop and make their business personal.

Marshall and Kristina Young
Marshall and Kristina Young

How it started

“It’s a snapshot into our lives,” Kristina explained. “It grows every year in the most beautiful way. … To be in a town like this is awesome.”
It’s no surprise the beach has a strong influence at Peace of Wood, but that’s not only due to its location. Before opening the shop and while working as a grade-school teacher, Kristina was also using art as therapy by painting seashells and selling them on the side of the road in Brigantine. She says a lot of her inspiration comes from the beach lifestyle – something she’s loved since she was young despite her (former) deathly fear of the ocean.
“I think I saw ‘Jaws’ too young,” she joked.
Enter Marshall, a surfer from Georgia who moved to Philadelphia and was working in the food industry when he met Kristina. Early in their dating days, the pair took a day trip to Ocean City, where Marshall helped his future wife overcome her fear of the ocean.

Kristina Young artwork
Kristina Young artwork

Where it’s going

Marshall’s surf lesson for Kristina was a successful venture, and the two still surf to this day – and use the lessons learned from the ocean at their shop.
“You see ebbs and flows like chapters,” Kristina said of her art. ”That tells the story of where I’m at in life.”
This year, Kristina’s art is on the cover of the Welcome to Ocean City guidebook, the sister publication to this magazine. Kristina managed to evoke the beauty of Ocean City, the ocean, beach, waves, sisterhood, women, and surf all while just about nine months pregnant with her daughter Yemaya.

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Growth is constant

Growth and change is constant at Peace of Wood, and not just in the artwork. Marshall builds new fixtures and tables to keep the shop fresh. And the Youngs are always dreaming up new programs. For instance, this past summer the shop offered its first art camp, something that will be built upon next year. And new this off-season, Peace of Wood is offering a homework club for kids, where Kristina provides help with homework and then leads a guided art project.
Peace of Wood is an experience. It’s an evolving passion project of two people who decided to leave the hustle and bustle of their former lives behind.
“It’s where I want to be always. It’s very hard to explain,” Kristina said. “We’re not perfect. We’re very transparent. We’ve grown, made mistakes, we try to keep it as real as we can.
“The growth of the shop is because of the growth of us.”
Painted in black above the window to the right of the door are two words: “Good Vibes.” Aside from “genuine,” there couldn’t be a better way to describe the little artist alcove nestled on the 300 Block of West Avenue.

Written by Anthony J. Mazziotti III.
Photos courtesy of Peace of Wood.

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