The Space Store, previously located in Englewood, Colo., has moved to a new location in Brevard County’s Cocoa Village (212 Brevard Avenue), where it showcases a variety of items from children’s educational toys to rare collectors’ items for serious space enthusiasts. In this new location, CEO/manager Brett Anderson will be joined by prominent space artist Tim Gagnon (who is a store manager) and warehouse manager John Oster. The store’s principals also have some surprises up their shirt sleeves for the store’s grand opening, which will take place this Friday, Sept. 12.
In a press release, Anderson related: “Ever since purchasing The Space Store in Houston in 2006, I had a long-term goal to have a store on Florida’s Space Coast. I have already made some contacts and alliances over the last few years here. When I saw Cocoa Village for the first time in 2013, I knew this would be an ideal location for the store. I plan to use local vendors whenever possible and support the local community. I am also honored to have longtime and well-known space artist Tim Gagnon on board as a store manager. I look forward to serving our guests wherever they come from.”
Gagnon is a pillar of the space community in Florida’s Space Coast. An artist who has been painting otherworldly scenes since his interest in spaceflight was “launched” by Apollo 17 in 1972, he has served as a coordinator for the Connecticut Young Astronauts program and in the Brevard County community for a number of space-related causes, including The Apollo 1 Memorial Foundation. He has painted a number of iconic astronauts, including Apollo 13’s Jack Swigert and Eileen Collins, the space shuttle’s first female commander.
In 2005, he realized a lifelong dream when his design of the International Space Station’s Expedition 11 patch (crewed by astronaut John Phillips and cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev) was selected to represent the mission. Since then, by himself and with a series of collaborators, he has designed a great many patches for space missions.
In an interview with Gagnon, he discussed the vital importance of doing business in such a community, which is defined by its involvement in spaceflight. He related: “Any growth is good for the area. When a large corporation announces an opening, it’s big news because of the number of jobs created. But small businesses are the backbone to the U.S. economy. We hope our move from Colorado to the Space Coast is viewed as our vote of confidence in the resurgence of Brevard County.”
He added: “The general public is under the impression that NASA went out of business when the shuttle program ended in 2011. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most visible ambassadors of space exploration are the astronauts. There have been American astronauts on orbit continuously since 2000. There is a new ‘Space Race’ going on right now: An American Space Race to see which company will launch astronauts from the Cape. The winners are about to be announced. Turning Low Earth Orbit operations over to a commercial provider will allow NASA to do what it does better than anybody: Explore. It’s a very exciting time in space exploration history, and The Space Store wants to share that excitement with our guests.”
When asked what kinds of things the community can expect from The Space Store, Gagnon enthused: “We want to build relationships in the space community, as we have with SpaceX. We are the only licensed vendor for official SpaceX merchandise in the area. We will use local suppliers wherever possible. The Space Store supports the missions of non-profit organizations such as The Apollo 1 Memorial Foundation, The Astronaut Memorial Foundation, The U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation and The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
“We know that our guests can purchase elsewhere. What sets The Space Store apart is the following: We develop many of our own products. The sublimation printing t-shirts are a good example. The art for our shirts is created in-house. We showcase the art of independent artists. My work of course, but also the photography of Andy Sokol, the art of Simon Kregar and Mark Karvon. We have plans to host a ‘Saturday Morning Science’ Young Explorers Program, similar in structure to the former Young Astronauts Program. We want to host small gatherings that feature a notable speaker from the space program. If you’ve ever watched The Actors Studio on television, that’s the format we will strive for. These events will take place at our warehouse location on Merritt Island.”
In addition to showcasing the work of local artists and craftsmen, The Space Store is also offering consignments from the private collections of space workers, which turn up rare collectibles. Previously, many of these items were not available to the public. Noted space historian Ken Havekotte of the Space Coast Cover Service will help authenticate these items.
The grand opening will kick off at 5 p.m. Friday, with several space icons joining the Space Store crew, including NASA’s former director of Shuttle Processing at Kennedy Space Center, Robert B. Sieck, the “Voice of Apollo,” Jack King, and John Zarrella, a former CNN correspondent who is notable for his coverage of space missions. The ribbon-cutting will be attended by Col. Albert Crews (Dyna-Soar/MOL astronaut), Capt. Winston Scott (space shuttle astronaut), Sieck, King, and Zarrella.
In addition, the store is holding a raffle on grand opening day, including four prizes: A signed Buzz Aldrin glossy print, an Space Launch System model, a commemorative space shuttle medallion, stamp, and pin set, and a Fisher space shuttle commemorative medallion and pen. Tickets are $10 to enter; one does not need to be present at the opening to win. Winning entries will be notified Saturday, September 13.
If you cannot make it to the Space Coast that day, The Space Store also is online (www.thespacestore.com), offering its wealth of astro-bodied goods.