This small store in Brooklyn’s Park Slope has a range of bright capes, heroic shorts, tutus, tiaras, muscle vests and themed T-shirts. Tubs offer qualities like magnificence and chutzpah, plus antigravity and antimatter. There are both doom and gloom for anyone feeling villainous, a special “devillainizer” kit for those looking to turn their back on evil and a mind reader if you just can’t decide. Books and posters complete the selection. “Everyone needs to have that superhero to hold on to when life gets hard,” says executive director Joshua Mandelbaum.
So far, so good, but – wouldn’t you know it – the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co has a secret. Head through a secret doorway, and you’ll find a (fully functioning) learning space. It’s part of a nationwide non-profit that uses trips, workshops, mentoring and other resources to help kids write and tell stories. Its parent company, 826 National, was set up by writer Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Clements Calegari, and it assists children across the USA.
That’s right – the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co is not alone. There are seven similar shops, including the Boston Bigfoot Research Institute, the Pirate Supply Store in California, Chicago’s Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co and the New Orleans Haunting Supply Co The stores aim to engage families with the organization’s work, as well as generate income – they also help with retail zoning restrictions.
The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company (372 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, NY) is open from noon to 6pm, Tuesday through Sunday. There’s a full list of 826 National’s shopfronts here, and you can also volunteer at the organization.