A Year of Hope, on the “Store of Hope” Anniversary
On July 11th DJJ celebrated the first anniversary of the “Store of Hope,” a retail store in Columbia which sells goods and products produced by DJJ youth. Having grown considerably over its first year, the store now boasts an impressive array of furnishings, decorative items, fashion accessories, and many other consumer products—and has proven increasingly popular with the general public.
As important, the Store of Hope is more than just a retail store. It has a valuable job training program for DJJ teens, both behind the fence and those under supervision in the community. The store is often staffed by youth from the community and its inventory products are produced by youth at the Broad River Road Complex
“We’ve grown pretty consistently since opening a year ago,” said Stacey Atkinson, who directs the training program. “We’ve had over $30,000 in sales this year, and are on track to do even better next year, she said.” It’s amazing how much our product line has expanded from just a year ago.
DJJ recently hired a store manager, Melanie Pompey, a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Retail Management and Fashion Merchandising. “I am excited to be part of an initiative that is providing a service to the public and helping young people to develop a future,’’ said Pompey.
Maximiliano Rodriguez, a DJJ student who works to produce products for the store, said “We get excited to know our products are being sold. It gives us the motivation to expand our minds and come up with new ideas as we are learning the benefits and experience of hard work.”
“We want to emphasize that this is so much more than just a retail store,” said DJJ Director Margaret H. Barber. “It’s a second chance for a lot of our young people. It’s a chance for them to learn job skills, to learn trade skills, to get real-world retail experience. It’s something positive they can take home with them.”
Of course, there are future plans for the store and for job training. In coming months, DJJ will open a Job Training Center near the store, where youth will learn even more job skills. “It is an exciting time right now, because we’re really just beginning,” said Atkinson. “Our products are really symbols of hope. And we are hoping for even more for our youth.”
The Store of Hope, at 3208 Broad River Road, is opened Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on the third Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Director Barber Addresses the Crowd at the Anniversary Celebration
South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice
4900 Broad River Road
Columbia SC, 29212-3552
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