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Mar Vista Time Travel Mart Opens: A New L.A. Outpost of Dave Eggers' 826 Organization

Mar Vista Time Travel Mart Opens: A New L.A. Outpost of Dave Eggers' 826 Organization
Tessa Stuart

Dino eggs are nestled inside the incubator, with the extra large cans of Mastodon Chunks arranged in a neat pyramid formation beside a display of Barbarian repellent and caveman candy (looking suspiciously similar to beef jerky).

"It's been a really long last month getting everything ready," May Pescante says from behind the cash register at the Mar Vista Time Travel Mart.

The storefront, attached to the writing and tutoring center 826 L.A., officially opened Friday evening with a party hosted by Hello Giggles, the website co-founded by Zooey Deschanel. Good-looking, bespectacled people sipped beers in cyro-cozies while perusing the Time Travel Mart's offering of anachronistic novelties and the tutoring center's library.

Mar Vista's Time Travel Mart is the newest addition to the constellation of 826 centers around the country. The organization began in San Francisco, where its first center, 826 Valencia, was founded by local teacher Nínive Calegari and author Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Zeitoun); the organization has since expanded to include locations in Boston, Chicago, DC, Michigan, New York and Seattle.

826 opened its first location in Los Angeles in 2005 in a former police station now known as the Social and Public Art Resource Center, just a few blocks down Venice Boulevard from the new location. In the SPARC building, though, the organization didn't have a storefront (or even a sign outside).

In 2008, the organization opened the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, which will remain open as a sister store to the Mar Vista location. Don't worry, you'll still be able to find the humors (vials of black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood), cold pressed whale oil and robot milk at the new location.

The cardinal difference between the two are their respectives looks -- the Echo Park location has the feel of a convenience store, and Mar Vista's storefront has the appearance of a mercantile. Staff will be split between both locations.

Staff say the new Venice Boulevard location will also be more convenient to families who were regulars at the SPARC building's tutoring center, and it is closer to Venice High School and Mark Twain Middle School.

We didn't spot Deschanel at the opening on Friday night, but proceeds from her holiday album with M. Ward (first released last year) do benefit 826 National -- as do proceeds from both Time Travel Marts.

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