Every weekend for years now, I’ve passed the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company Store. It’s been on 5th Avenue in Park Slope since 2004 and, when my kids were younger, we went in to browse the aisles and look around. It’s become such a part of the neighborhood that it’s easy to lose sight of how unique this store truly is. Yesterday, I took this photo of the window where some of the supplies for sale are proudly displayed. Obviously, you can’t get a ten gallon can of Immortality just anywhere.
So what is this place? Essentially it’s a non-profit study center founded by writer Dave Eggers, author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” and many other notable books.
The store “front” is exactly what it says — a place where you can buy capes, gloves, masks and other material that would neatly into the wardrobe of any superhero. But it’s in the back of the store where the true superheroes display their powers. That’s where a group of volunteers help kids 6 to 18 improve their writing skills. It’s such a cool idea that it’s amazing it hasn’t been widely copied. The original store is in San Francisco and that has a pirate theme.
Ah but superheroes. I’ve long thought the notion of comic books and superheroes is very underrated in our educational system. When I was a young bookworm growing up in a Bronx housing project, I read comics non-stop and so did all my friends. There was always something magically alluring about the idea that you could have two identities — one ordinary and seemingly weak and the other big and all powerful. When you grow up miles away from the epicenter of power and don’t know anyway in to all those skyscrapers in Manhattan, the idea that you can someday transform yourself into a superhero and leap tall buildings is a powerful lure indeed.