Wednesday 12 May 2021
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Shop around the corner: Exercise the mind at Marbles the Brain Store

There’s nothing wrong with shopping and exercising the brain at the same time

By Megan Green

When someone enters Marbles: The Brain Store, they could simply glance around and assume it’s a basic bookstore or toy store. But the reality is much more mind bending.

When co-founders Lindsay Gaskins and Karen Luby first came up with the idea for Marbles: The Brain Store, they had visions of a place that could promote brain health. And at this store, I found that exercising your brain can actually be quite entertaining.

The first of the now eight (and growing) Marbles stores opened in October of 2008 at 55 E. Grand Ave. The store is divided into six main sections: Memory, Critical Thinking, Coordination, Visual Perception, Brain Fitness Software and Word Skills. Each area is filled with specific games, books and software designed to target a person’s individual brain needs.

Marbles has everything from the familiar Rubik’s Cube to board and card games to more advanced computer software. The variety of products offers something for everyone at any age. Some of the merchandise gets rotated out about every six months, so there are often fresh products for people to experience on a return trip.

And unlike other stores near Michigan Avenue, the staff here truly wants you to experience their products. Marbles boasts anything but a “look-but-don’t-touch” atmosphere, especially when it comes to testing out the brain software on the in-house computers.

“People can come in and sit down and try (the products),” says store president and CEO Lindsay Gaskins. “The store is all about the people.”

Beyond just showing them how to work the programs, the extensively trained staff is also available to help customers decide what products might be most beneficial for them and even aid with concerns about more serious issues involving the brain, such as Alzheimer’s.

The store also hosts “the Marbles Happenings.” These events take place several times each month, providing a chance for people in the community to participate in activities focusing on anything from game nights to teacher appreciation or grandparents’ nights.

Regardless of the reason for entering the store, Gaskins is glad her customers are learning about brain health. She acknowledges that while many people pay attention to their physical health, there really has never been enough focus on specific tools to exercise the brain.

“Every town you go to there is another gym,” Gaskins says. “The brain is something we use every day. People don’t think as much about making sure they are using it the right way.”

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