SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks is opening a storefront on Springfield’s Historic Commercial Street, spotlighting products created by people with Down Syndrome.
“This store and project is really focused on our adults and our older kiddos and our adults, giving them opportunities to develop their products, develop a brand that they can be involved with, come in, work in the store, interact with customers,” Scott Kirby, Executive Director of the DSGO said.
Several brands and their creators will be on display at the Upside Down Mercantile.
“The whole concept behind the name Upside Down is, you know, society kind of has had a negative view at times for individuals with Down Syndrome,” Scott said. “We’re looking to turn that whole way of thinking upside down and not focus on what they can’t do but show what they can do.”
Those brands range from coffee and jewelry to pet treats.
Brent and his son Alex Cochran created Al’s Pals Pet Place.
“We started this in 2020 after Alex got done with high school,” Brent said. “We wanted him to have something that he could be a part of, and so we were looking to try to decide what kind of business we wanted to have. We have two dogs at home, and so dog treats is where it started.”
Cochran’s product line has gained momentum online, which they hope can turn into customers.
“The community has always been really, really good at supporting us and you know we set out to do a couple of things,” Brent said. “[Alex] helps us count stuff when it comes in the prices that are on these most of these a lot of these, he’s put the tags on them. He definitely knows who is the boss.
Kirby hopes the community impact will help the store expand down the road.
“It shows that people are understanding, more the value of our kiddos and what they’re capable of, and accepting the fact that they are a very important part of our society and bringing something that we all need,” Kirby said.
The Upside Down Mercantile will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 203 West Commercial Street Suite C.