Thursday, November 04, 2010

826 Valencia - San Francisco

San Francisco 10.10
Are you in need of pirate supplies? If so, I have just the place. The store in front of the writing center at 826 Valencia in San Francisco. It's a curiosity that exists because it has to. After being turned down for regular use of church basements and school facilities, the founders discovered an empty store for sale on Valencia Street. City ordinances required that any businesses in that particular area of the city be either retail or catering, so the Pirate Supply Store was set up as the retail front for the writing center.
the Pirate Store at 826 Valencia
There are now seven chapters that make up 826 National: 826NYC in Brooklyn, New York, which features a super hero-themed supply store, and another at 826 Michigan in Ann Arbor, home to a robot store. The 826 Seattle writing center in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood is host to the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company and the Boston writing center is home of the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute. Additional 826 chapters are located in Los Angeles, 826LA and Chicago, 826CHI. (But apparently they're no fun.)
Lard at 826 Valencia.  Really.
Some of the unusual offerings you'll find at the Pirate Supply Store include bulk lard, a substance with a surprising number of practical uses...

San Francisco 10.10
If that doesn't strike your fancy, how about some Dolphin Tears? I'm not sure what they're good for either. All of these novelties are for sale, with proceeds benefitting the center. (Should you have questions about the shop there is a supremely un-helpful but quite entertaining FAQ here.)
San Francisco 10.10

They also offer a wide assortment of the books and magazines published by McSweeney's - the fabulous, humorous publishing company helmed by Dave Eggers and crew.
San Francisco 10.10

The real "raison d'etre" of the place though, is the writing center and lab. The mission of the center is to encourage and support kids 6-18 in developing writing skills and a love of literature. They accomplish this with tutoring, workshops and field trips - such as the bookmaking and story telling workshop taking place today, November 4, 2010.
San Francisco 10.10
They also offer weekend writing work shops and programs for adults and the public, such as the food writing work shop described on the flier below. If only I weren't already going to be in NYC, I'd have gotten on a plane and gone back to SF for this in a heartbeat. Well, maybe not, but still.
if ONLY.
If you find yourself in the neighborhood, don't hesitate to stop in next door at Paxton Gate. The assortment of taxidermied animals and garden goods is really quite complimentary to the oddities of the Pirate Store. On my next trip to the block, I plan to check out the Curiosity Shop across the street as well. If it's anything like it's neighbors, it's sure to be an interesting spot.

826 Valencia
826 Valencia Street (duh.)
San Francisco, CA 94110-1737
(415) 642-5905


  1. I think I could get lost in there for about a month.

  2. This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. A place dedicated to helping develop writing? Wow. Love it.

  3. Wow! This is so cool. Wish we had something like this in Las Vegas. But alas our educational system here really is poor so I think it'd be challenging to find support around here.

    As for what to do with the lard? How about pie crust? I'll be honest - I've never made one with lard myself but I've had it at the home of friends and they're flaky, light and wonderful.