In many people's minds, Lego toys (Legos) are primarily for children, providing an opportunity for innovation and creativeness. But for Brandon Nissen, they are much more.
Nissen, owner and founder of Brickcent$ in Chinook, has an unfathomable collection: “There's probably over a million pieces.”
At the age of two he received his first Lego set – a scene out of the Medieval times. His love for Legos began long before any of the sets that are on the shelves now.
Nissen was working as a financial advisor before he began a new venture following his love for brick masonry. He created a YouTube page and Facebook page that are works in progress – what some would call a dream.
“I think so far, we've done like seven or eight videos that are very, very basic. But the plan long-term is to talk life insurance and Roth IRAs and compound interest and estate planning and planning to go to Disney. I'll incorporate the actual Disney Castle.”
He added that financial education isn’t taught enough in schools the way it should be. Creating a free platform that is fun and interactive is an asset to teaching financial literacy with viewers of all ages.
The dream doesn’t end there, as his flagship business sits at 236 Indiana Street in Chinook. He hopes in the next year to create Montana’s first Legos museum, creating an opportunity for children and adults to step into another realm. It’s a work in progress for Nissen but confidence is key and support from the community runs deep.
Life for Nissen was hard in recent years when he was involved in a car crash that left a mark on his heart and mind.
“It wasn't a big deal, but definitely had an impact in my physical and my mental health. And this (Legos) gave me a break. It gave me the opportunity to focus my time and my energy on something so positive… They saved my life.”
Nissen’s battle with his mental health is only part of the story. It goes beyond his peace of mind. He’s doing well and continues to put good into his community each day he lays a tile.
In November, Brickcent$ launched a program in partnership with the PAWS of Chinook animal shelter. We reported in August about a crisis at the shelter that took in 30 dogs at the time for a four-kennel shelter; that number was finalized and rose to an even 40 dogs. A crisis was an understatement.
With outpouring support from the community and across the state, PAWS of Chinook has managed to find homes for 21 of the 40 animals rescued. Yet the shelter still needs help with the other 19 animals.
Brickcent$ is fundraising via an “Adopt a LEGO dog program." Lego offers dozens of dog breeds, and Nissen jumped into action firing off a Facebook post that has now raised $600 for the shelter, and he is ready to raise more.
“it's wonderful for us,” said Alissa Hewitt, director of PAWS of Chinook, “But you're also getting something back that's fun, that's creative. It's something that you don't see every shelter doing. And that's a big deal. It's not just a run of the mill fundraiser that we're kind of used to. And yes, so now everyone's going, 'What's the next dog? Which ones?' Ones are coming and it builds that excitement and that's a lot of fun. It's really kind of running the other way."
Brickcent$ has sold out of Husky and German Shepherd breeds, while bulldogs are in stock and ready to sell for $10 each.
At $10 a pop, a percentage of the proceeds go back to Brickcent$ for the purchase of more figurines for the next round of fundraising. If you want to adopt a LEGO dog, click here and send Brickcent$ a direct message. They ship to you and are available to go home today.
If you’re not ready to adopt a LEGO dog, visit PAWS of Chinook’s website to donate directly; all proceeds go to the daily care, medical care, and various bills to keep the doors of the shelter open.