Little stands with one-off clothing designs, custom made sneakers and sporty outfits by cult brands form the stores-in-store. There is a juice bar with cosy seating area, a ‘hangout’ with lounge sofa and gaming computer, a hairdresser and professional tattoo studio.
The indoor football pitch to the rear of the store is particularly popular for after-school kick-abouts. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were in a community centre. “Younithy definitely has a community role”, says founder, Casper Brans with a smile. “Our retail concept has both commercial and societal objectives. It’s a hotspot where you can shop as well as chat, interact and play football with your friends. We hold regular events, such as product presentations, spontaneous performances and DJ sets. We offer our target group an experience that gives them a sense of belonging. Hence the blending of the words You and Unity. The message is a really important one for young people in this day and age.”
Casper created Younithy to support young people’s development through entrepreneurship. “Youth culture today is very much focused on material things and self-interest. Kids are no longer learning to do things that benefit their environment, without there being some kind of pay-off. Our team shows them another way: by joining forces with youngsters, listening to their stories and kicking a ball around, we create a social structure whereby earning money is not the primary goal. In fact, our entrepreneurs are often role models. The store evolved out of a previous project that Casper launched at football club, Zaanlandia. As the father of a footballing son, he noticed that there was little social connection between the lads on and off the pitch. “Everyone was interested in themselves. The final whistle had barely sounded and everyone was off. There was lack of team spirit, which I felt was behind the declining member numbers.” He arranged a sample sale at the club’s canteen and had boys aged 15-17 sell the sponsored clothing. The profits went to the club and another youth charity. It was a resounding success: the boys were enthusiastic and far more engaged with one another. Casper would later channel that collective effort into his store concept, because: “youngsters really are sociable and willing to do things for one another. You just need to know how to stimulate them.”