826 Valencia

826 Valencia

Shopping is one of the topics I don’t really get into here. However, I visited the pirate shop and had to share. 826 Valencia is a writing and tutoring center in the Mission in San Francisco, founded by Dave Eggers [who also founded Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, authored A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, among other books, and a long time ago had a comic in the SF Weekly called Smarter Feller, which was pretty much the most clever thing ever].

The storefront space [created because the building is zoned for commercial use] is what should be meant by a “concept store” — a quasi art installation and impeccably curated, thesis-driven retail space. There is some evidence of the nonprofit’s actual mission in the publications available for sale, but mostly the space is a humorous experience that invites you to purchase something to benefit the center because, well, who couldn’t use a glass eye or cure for scurvy?

826 Valencia

826 Valencia

826 Valencia

826 Valencia

826 Valencia

826 Valencia

826 Valencia

826 Valencia

826 Valencia

826 Valencia

There are 826 programs in other cities, and other specialty stores as well: Superhero Supply Company in NYC, Monsters Union Local in Ann Arbor, Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company in Seattle, time travel store in LA, and a secret agent supply store in Chicago.

The facade features a mural by Chris Ware [creator of the incredible graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth which, among many other things, is about Chicago’s World’s Colombian Exposition of 1893 and so may be of interest to the urban history buffs out there], and 826 Valencia recommends viewing it from the middle of Mission St. for at least an hour in order to comprehend it:

826 Valencia

The shop’s merchandise was designed with SF design studio Office [hello, coolest design project ever?!?] and includes posters and t-shirts [which are actually among the most mundane objects for sale but are still very funny and beautifully designed]. I purchased the print on the right and am already dreading the inevitable backlash that befell that Keep Calm and Carry On poster:

826 Valencia

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15 thoughts on “826 Valencia

  1. Hey Maya – I love your blog! Michael forwarded it to me today so I am seeing it for the first time. Great photos of 826 Valencia and nice mural by Chris Ware. I like your photos of old signs around Cincinnati too.

  2. Hi – I might be doing a brief presentation about 826 shops this weekend, as part of a vague idea to try to start up a similarly inspired project in London. Would you mind if I used your photos, if I gave you credit for them?

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  4. very nice post, photos and coverage…

    “…dreading the inevitable backlash that befell that Keep Calm and Carry On poster”

    big, big difference. the pirate posters are: (1) original: literally independent creative thought, not a rip-off of an existing wartime poster (2) well designed: balance, composition, contrast, type-personality, etc all pair well with the concept, not centered, unisize and in england’s national typeface (3) high quality: opaque ink on beautiful black paper, not an epson print or screen on thin white paper, (4) for a good cause: office did this pro-bono for a non-profit that helps kids, the keep calm poster pays no royalties to any original creator or good-cause.

    to be honest, i think anyone selling keep calm posters and calling themselves a designer or contributor (or even a craftsperson) because of it should be shamed into the back room of a kinkos. maybe there they can operate the copy machines with a bit of dignity.

  5. I completely agree about the qualities that make the pirate posters a much worthier purchase than the “Keep Calm” ones, which are nice enough posters in and of themselves but, at this point, are very far removed from their original purpose, and the person who is benefitting from their sales had nothing to do with their design or intention.

    I happen to like those “Keep Calm” posters, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable purchasing one of these contemporary reprints. The pirate posters are just as well-designed, and my purchase would support a great cause. There’s no contest.

  6. These are two different situations but, if the pirate posters were to become the hippest bit of go-to wall decor, and if every shelter rag and reality TV set featured one in every hipster home, we’d probably all get tired of them. I hope that doesn’t happen, but I’m really happy with my poster.

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