"While I was in San Francisco, I visited 826 Valencia, San Francisco's only independent pirate supply store."
- My friend (and neighbor) Rhiannon
And so began my education about 826 Valencia. It's a pirate supply shop that's really a front for a fab writing workshop. I'm just bummed that I missed the saltine whistling contest.
826 Valencia runs San Francisco's "only independent pirate supply store." Located in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District, the store is the front entrance of the tutoring center and has the look and feel of an authentic pirate shop, selling pirate clothing, eyepatches, compasses, spyglasses, pirate dice, skull soapflags, and secret treasures. It features handmade signs, scattered around the store, offering such tongue-in-cheek wisdom as "Uses for Lard" (#5: "Lard Fights") and "Guidelines for New Shipmates" (#4: "No forgetting to swab"). Unsuspecting visitors are sometimes treated to surprise "moppings." Shoppers can also find back issues of McSweeney's literary journals for sale, as well as books published by Eggers' McSweeney's Press--including essay and story compilations written by 826 Valencia students.
A second writing center in Brooklyn, New York, features a superhero-themed supply store. Additional 826 writing centers are located in Los Angeles, Seattle, Michigan, and Chicago.
826 Valencia is the name and address of a writing workshop and tutoring center in San Francisco whose aim is to help students ages 8-18 "with their writing skills, in the realm of creative writing, expository writing, or English as a second language." It was founded by Bay Area author Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity) and is run by a small regular staff along with hundreds of volunteers and Bay Area professionals. The center offers adult writing workshops, scholarships, drop-in tutoring for students, and in-classroom visits, among other education-related activities.