The Art of Darkness

826 Stores

March 7th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Mortal TerrorI first encountered the 826 stores a couple of years ago in the form of some photos of The Echo Park Time Travel Mart. The link was presented without any sort of background, so I was left scratching my head as to whether it was some kind of temporary art installation, an actual store, or perhaps an elaborate work of private whimsy.

I recently ran across some photos of products from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, and with a combined sense of déjà vu and WTF decided to investigate further.

The names of the stores come from the address of their first location, the Pirate Supply Store at 826 Valencia in San Francisco. Proceeds are used to fund the 826 National writing program, which tutors kids ages 6-18 in expository and creative writing. The stores are works of creative genius all by themselves, consisting of (in addition to the Time Travel Mart and the Pirate Supply Store), The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair, the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company, The Boring Store, the Bigfoot Research Institute of Greater Boston, and The Museum of Unnatural History.

Inspired by the 826 program, a group in the UK created (with the founders’ blessing) the Ministry of Stories. They are responsible for the Hoxton Street shop, and perhaps we’ll see additional locations in the future.

If I have one quibble, it’s that the various stores don’t have extensive online catalogues. The relatively new Museum of Unnatural History happens to be near me (and I’m already planning an excursion there), but I may never get to sample Golden Horde brand powdered horse milk or pick up a couple of cans of A Vague Sense of Unease.

Fortunately, there’s also a book about the stores: Essentially Odd features photos of products from the various stores, plus anecdotes and design notes from the artists and designers responsible.

If you’re looking for some fantastic creative inspiration, the 826 product lines are an incredible resource.

Posted in Resources | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. Beans Says:

    This is such a clever idea! Bet the designers have fun!

  2. xJane Says:

    As a time traveler myself, I’m grateful that the Time Travel Mart is both spatially and temporally close to me (at this moment/place) but have not yet had the chance to find myself there.

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