A Rock Star on University Avenue


Rock Star Supply Co. has set up shop at the southwest corner of Raymond and University and is looking for artists, writers, volunteer tutors and students who can use the help of a few creative people to improve their study skills.

Rock Star has been working with students at Como Park Senior High School and schools in Minneapolis for several years. The group moved from its office in Minneapolis to University Avenue this summer with the help of Starling, a group that has been working to fill vacant space on University Avenue.

The prototype for Rock Star Supply is Pirate Supply Co. started by author Dave Eggers in San Francisco. Pirate Supply blends a fun retail shop (yes, it sells pirate gear) with artists and writers who are willing to tutor.

Rock Star has applied to join Eggers’ 826 National, a nonprofit that gives leadership training, administration and other resources to eight writing and tutoring centers across the country that are patterned after Pirate Supply.

Starting this fall, Rock Star will provide free weekend project-based workshops and after-school tutoring to low-income students in elementary through high school. The group is hoping to work with more schools in the area and has partnered with the St. Paul Public Schools Foundation, said Chad Kampe, executive director.

“We focus on creative writing and tutoring,” Kampe said. “We try to make [the tutoring] fun and enjoyable for students.”

Guest artists and writers will lead students through workshops like writing fairy tales or collaborating on a novel written in one afternoon. The group plans to continue to support teachers in schools and train volunteers who want to tutor.

Rock Star Supply plans to change its name this fall. “We are in the ideation process to come up with a theme” that would lend itself to opening a store like the Pirate Supply Co., Kampe said. The stores at 826 centers sell merchandise tied to the name of the center and that helps raise money for the center’s work.

You can visit Rock Star Supply on Thursday, Sept. 12, when it hosts an artist-designed community game night from 6 to 10 p.m., featuring the work of Emily Stover, Molly Balcom Raleigh and Janaki Ranpura. The games will include a Minnesota Whist tournament, divination cards that prompt urban exploration and Awkward Cards to help smooth difficult social situations.

Find out more at rockstarsupplyco.org.

Photo: Chad Kampe, executive director of Rock Star Supply Co. (Park Bugle photo by Kristal Leebrick)