The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which is responsible for holding and rehabilitating teens who have committed crimes, has opened a new store that’s meant to help at-risk youth.
The agency’s new Store of Hope opened in Columbia Wednesday and will sell products created by the teens currently housed in the DJJ system. Director Margaret Barber says the new store is a second option for troubled teens to gain work experience and discover their strengths.
“We start tearing apart; what are you good at? What can you do? What talents do you have? We want you to get a GED. We want you to even gain a high school diploma. But we also want to make you job ready,” Barber told South Carolina Radio Network.
The store is youth-driven, which Barber says means the youth build and create an array of products that are sold for low prices in the store. All the store’s profits go back into materials for the teens to continue working.
Barber says, in some cases, the store helps teens see how they can be constructive doing the very thing that got them into trouble.
“Some of the young people that have to come to us, that have made these items, had been painting graffiti on walls. They’re now painting beautiful butterflies and artwork on fabric. They’re now putting their heart into art pieces,” says Barber.
The “Store of Hope” is self-sufficient and will use no state funds, Barber said. It is located at 3208 Broad River Road and is open every Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the third Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Tripp Girardeau contributed to this report.