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Pick up Your Pirate Supplies at San Francisco’s 826 Valencia

San Francisco’s Only Pirate Supply Store: 826 Valencia

When I first heard that there was a pirate supply store in San Francisco’s Mission District, I admit I was a little skeptical. I figured it would be one of those slightly seedy, year-round costume shops, filled with black vinyl “sexy pirate” costumes. But a little research quickly revealed the pirate shop is actually part of a larger community project created by author Dave Eggers.

This is my furry copy of Eggers' novel, The Wild Things-- inspired by Maurice Sendak's original.

This is my furry copy of Eggers’ novel, The Wild Things (inspired by Maurice Sendak’s original).

Concerned about overburdened teachers, Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari opened a writing and tutoring center in the Mission District at 826 Valencia. Because the building was zoned for retail, the founders needed to add some sort of store to the center to keep it in code. Naturally, they chose to sell pirate supplies.

Inside the Pirate Store: What to Expect

If you think a proper pirate store should offer wooden peg legs and remedies for scurvy, then you will love 826 Valencia. I almost hesitate to tell you too much about the shop as it’s so much fun to discover the treasures tucked into every nook and corner on your own.

But we’ll highlight a few of our favorite pirate supplies:

Pirate Toys

We loved the wooden, nautical-themed toys, like this frog that sings– perfect for your desk at work or as a gift for your favorite kid.

2. Pirate’s Apothecary, Odds and Ends

Browse the shelves for most-wanted pirate supplies, like leeches to cure gangrene and sea sponges for pirate bath time. And real pirates don’t use fussy tape measures– they measure their fathoms with fathom-sized pieces of rope.

3. Pirate-Themed Bon-Mots

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Don ‘t miss the clever signs posted all around the shop. I snapped some photos of a few of my favorites (click through the slideshow to see them all).

4.  Books for a Pirate or Landlubber

Given that 826 Valencia is a writing center, you can expect an interesting selection of books on sale in the pirate shop.

826 valencia books

Even the biggest Kindle devotee will swoon at the irresistible books on display– like this beautifully printed, ribbon-tied leaflet promising 18th century advice on how to win a lover.

5. Dress Like a Pirate

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An awesome staffer models the $300 hook hand for me. This is one of the few (only?) items kept behind glass.

You would probably expect a pirate supply shop to carry popular pirate staples like hats and eye patches. But 826 Valencia goes the extra mile and carries items you probably haven’t seen anywhere else– like a steel and leather hook hand and a full-size wooden peg leg.

The helpful staff not only let us play with all their pirate supplies, but didn’t even bat an eye when we challenged each other to pirate sword duels.

My pirate mates Black Jeni Rackham and Dread Pirate Bonney spar with their pirate swords (To find your own pirate name, take this pirate quiz)

Dread (aka Anne) tests out a peg leg.

6. Don’t Judge the Fish

On the way out, don’t miss the tiny theater set up in the front corner of the store. The main feature is always the same– a giant fish tank which you won’t be able to take your eyes off of.

Souvenir Finder Shopping Tip Sheet

  • What to buy: Pirate garb and toys, or just a great book.
  • Where to get it: 826 Valencia in San Francisco, CA
  • What to know: this is a kid-friendly shop in a great part of the Mission with lots of other shops to explore.

Thanks to my pirate mates Jeni and Anne of Part-Time Traveler for modeling the pirate gear!  The pirate shop is just one stop on Anne’s tour of the Mission District– stayed tuned for a full write-up coming soon!

Do you love pirates? Share in the comments below!

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6 Responses to Pick up Your Pirate Supplies at San Francisco’s 826 Valencia

  1. Anne 08/17/2014 at 6:14 pm #

    I can’t even tell you how much I love this post!!! I’m so happy we got the chance to go there together while you were in town! You really captured the spirit of the place. Arrrrr!

  2. Brad Bernard 08/17/2014 at 6:19 pm #

    I love this, wow! Who knew there was an entire store dedicated to pirate supplies!? Just in time for International talk-like-a-pirate-day on September 19th! Awesome pictures, you really brings the store to life.

    You have some fantastic pirate models. Dread looks familiar, is she on TV?

  3. Sue Slaght 08/17/2014 at 11:24 pm #

    Oh I want to go immediately! I would have thought it to be so tacky so thanks for straightening me out. I’m getting that hook hand for sure!

  4. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer 08/18/2014 at 6:31 pm #

    Haha that sounds like so much fun! And it looks like you can get so many fun things for the kiddos too!

  5. dianaveggienextdoor 08/19/2014 at 9:39 am #

    So fun! We have something similar in Chicago – a theme shop that is a cover for a writing program. http://www.chicagoartistsresource.org/field-notess/826chi-nonprofit-writing-and-tutoring-center

  6. ryanzieman 08/27/2014 at 1:09 pm #

    I’m loving that there is a section dedicated to pirate “legs” lol. Your photos really seem to capture the store while still leaving a little mystery. I’ll definitely have to check this place out if I’m ever in SF.

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