Youth Brigade Snow & Skate gives young shredders the gear selection they deserve.
During one of Calgary’s first blizzards of the season, Youth Brigade Snow & Skate owners Jordan Fleming and Brock Heartwell took a break from their bustling shop to chat about its unique concept, and their plans for the future.
Youth Brigade is an all youth-focused snowboard and skateboard shop located in Calgary, Alberta. Jordan and Brock, lifetime friends and long-time rippers, opened the shop after years of noticing a gap in the industry.
While working in various shops across the country, Jordan became frustrated by the lack of gear he could offer kids and parents. It drove him to want change, and to take matters into his own hands. “From the time I was nine or ten years old I knew right away that kids don’t have the same selection of gear that adults do,” he says. “Twenty years later we still have the same problem. So I knew something had to change.”
Brock, who worked for several years as a sales rep, came to the same conclusion, noticing that youth products are far less accessible to customers. The two joined together to make their childhood dream of opening a shop a reality, choosing to create a youth-driven shop that has been shaking up the skate and snow industry in Calgary for the last four years.
Youth Brigade offers clothing and other gear for everyone from two years old to around sixteen, maxing out their sizing at a men’s medium. This unique clientele allows them to focus on targeted customer service, something both men take pride in.
“A parent used to walk into a shop years ago and feel very intimidated,” Brock says. “Our shop hasn’t lost that edgy feel, but we want people to come in and feel comfortable. Then we can offer them the knowledge and products to just go out and have fun.”
Brock and Jordan say the kids coming into their shop have often done their research and know what brands they want. Youth Brigade is the place they can turn to in order to actually get those brands in their own sizes.
Youth Brigade also offers beginner skateboarding lessons to some of its younger visitors. Making use of a mini-ramp in the back of the shop, Jordan and Brock offer lessons on first pushes, the etiquette of a skate park, and even help out those skaters who just need a little advice before landing their next trick. Jordan says the lessons allow them to build a connection with both the kids and their parents, and make everyone stoked to hang out there together.
This past summer, Youth Brigade teamed up with Evolve Skate Camps, acting as a pick-up location for the youth program. The full-day camps teach skaters new tricks and techniques based on their skill level, and Jordan and Brock said hearing their accomplishments at the end of each day was super exciting.
“Skateboarding is extremely difficult,” says Brock. “We try to reinforce that skateboarding is a mental battle; if you put your mind to it you can do it. We really try to encourage kids to take their time and believe in themselves. Then the look on their faces when they do something new is so rewarding.”
Jordan agrees, and says that skateboarding is a nice change from mainstream sports. “In this day and age there’s a lot of participation awards,” he says. “Skateboarding is never going to give you that. There are no shortcuts, but it teaches you that failure is okay. Skateboarding is success through failure.”
Now that the snow is falling, Youth Brigade is making the shift to winter shredding. The store is lined with jackets, goggles, gloves, and helmets waiting to be picked up by the next generation of snowboarders. As they think about the future, Jordan and Brock love the idea of expanding throughout Calgary, but want to make sure they do it right. “There are a lot of businesses that see a little bit of success and jump way too quickly,” says Jordan. “We don’t want to franchise and then lose control of everything that makes Youth Brigade great. We definitely want to keep the expectation of who we are at the top level.”
Brock and Jordan believe it’s a revolutionary time in snowboarding and skateboarding where, for the first time, the parents are snowboarders and skateboarders themselves. Youth Brigade is proud to provide this new era of families with a place to confidently get their kids started.
For more information, check out Youth Brigade Snow & Skate’s website here.