A new location for Brainerd’s youth activity center means expanded programs and growth.
The Shop moved from downtown to the old Citadel Game building on Washington Street.
“The community will be able to see that youth can be assets to the community,” said Cindy Moore, who founded the establishment. “They have good, powerful voices.”
A group of about 20 teenagers helped pack up and unload everything this past weekend. The Shop will open its doors again this weekend.
There’s still a lot of work to be done before then, including setting up tables, organizing the items and patching up a leak in the roof.
At 2,800 square feet, the new building is more than double the space of the old one. Also, a new addition is a parking lot and larger signs.
Instead of the cramped two-room building at the old location, the new spot offers many new spaces: a computer room, office, TV area and social area. The teenagers are still dreaming up what else they want to bring into the abundant room. A few ideas include a pool table and chalk wall.
There will also be spots for two new programs: PCs for People, which allows youth to rebuild computers and sell them to low-income community members; and the Bicycle Recycle Program, which allows teens to repair damaged bicycles and get them to those in need.
The computer program is new to The Shop. Moore wanted to implement it sooner but she needed to provide a secure space for the technology, which the old building didn’t have.
The bicycle program ran for about four years under the leadership of Adam Marcotte, a board member of The Shop. But the program was halted last year because of space issues.
Now, the program can run constantly, instead of just once a month, and will be operated in the back of the new building. The new bicycle room even has its own exit, so bikers can test out their new rides.
The recent move is good news for the organization leaders.
They have been looking for a new space for about a year. Up to 50 teenagers a day fill the center, so the two-room building that housed The Shop for three years was falling short.
The new space will also allow for more visibility for residents who don’t know The Shop exists.
“Now they will know,” Moore said. “This building has sat empty so long, and everyone has wondered what will happen with it. This is it.”
It also helps add to a healthy community, she said, by involving youth and keeping them local.
“They have a lot to offer,” she said. “And a lot just want someone to listen to them.”
Marcotte and Moore say there is a need for a good, safe place for teens to gather.
“This fills that need,” Marcotte said.
The new space means better opportunities to give the youth of the Brainerd lakes area a voice, Moore added.
It means more challenges and more excitement.
“There is so much more that we can offer,” Moore said.