Who: Imagination Station
What: A charity run, not-for-profit LEGO play and education centre
Where: Christchurch, New Zealand
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started and what you’re all about?
Imagination Station is a LEGO play and education centre in the heart of Christchurch city. We offer a range of LEGO programs, classes and events for schools, preschools, children and adults. We started off as a six month project to get families back into the city centre after the earthquakes, and 17 months later we’re still here!
The aim of Imagination Station is to provide a creative space for children to engage with LEGO and technology. We offer free LEGO play, as well as paid LEGO classes including stop motion animation, robotics, technics, storytelling and jewellery making. We also offer birthday parties and after school classes as well as a host of public classes during the school holidays and our very own school holiday program, Brick School.
We have a passionate team of staff and volunteers who make Imagination Station such a special place to be! We love watching children express their creativity with LEGO and have many ways for children to share their work, including a photo staton, a display table and our ‘Station Snapshot’ Facebook posts each day. Our favourite part is seeing the look of awe and wonder on a child’s face when they come to Imagination Station for the first time and see the sheer amount of LEGO we have!
What’s your local community like?
We have a wide range of people coming to Imagination Station each day. Children, families, schools and preschools are our main visitors. We also get lots of tourists, teenagers and adults who want to see what we’re all about. And we’ve got an amazing LEGO Cathedral model in our front window that draws a lot of people in, as well as some great Star Wars LEGO and LEGO creations made by our visitors that are admired by the many people passing by each day.
What brought you to Vend and how have you found it? Would you recommend Vend to retailers like you?
We were after a point of sale system when we opened and had heard great things about Vend. Vend is such an easy system to pick up at all levels, it’s very user friendly. I would recommend Vend to other retailers who are looking for a new system for their business.
What does your passion come from for what you do?
Everyone who works at Imagination Station either grew up with LEGO, or has developed a passion for it later in life! The staff and volunteers also love working with children or want to get experience working with children, so Imagination Station is the perfect place to merge our passions for LEGO and children. LEGO is such a universal product and allows adults and children to work together in a collaborative way. We love seeing groups of children, or children and adults sitting in the LEGO pit building together. The happy faces of the children who visit us is what keeps us coming back each day. A lot of the volunteers enjoy their work here over their paid job, and the staff can’t quite believe they get paid to do what they do! Imagination Station is such an incredible place and we all hope we can be around forever.
Do you have any advice for retailers that you wish you’d known?
When we opened, we didn’t realise dhow quickly we would grow. So my advice for other retailers is to know your market really well before you open, so that you have enough resources and staffing to manage the demand for your product.
What’s your best retail tale?
One of the students from our after school classes has some learning difficulties at school. He can be having a really bad week because of the pressures of school and homework, have a meltdown in the car on the way here, but the second he walks into Imagination Station, all of that is wiped clean, and he is OK again! Its amazing to see just how much Imagination Station means to him and we love having him and watching him him express himself creatively with his amazing first person LEGO stop motion animation films that he has been working on this term. Imagination Station means so much to so many people, and we all feel really honoured to be a part of it.
About Ashley Gilgrist
Ashley looks after product marketing at Vend — working hard to bring exciting product launches to retailers around the globe. When she’s not busy talking all-things-Vend, Ashley also has a love of tea, candle-crafting, binge-watching, and hiking the pointy peaks of New Zealand.