Columbia Heights writing and tutoring center 826DC moved into its new location on the mezzanine level of the Tivoli Theatre last week. The center is also operating an on-site magician’s supply store, just in time for holiday shopping.
The quirky nonprofit is part of a national network of writing centers co-founded by author Dave Eggers and educator Ninive Calegari. Each location doubles as a themed novelty shop, whose proceeds benefit its student writing programs. The original DC storefront was “The Museum of Unnatural History” selling “unicorn tears” and other fantastical trinkets. That theme has now been replaced by Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co., where budding magicians can pick up gloves, capes, hats, and other essentials. “It’s that theatrical magic of David Copperfield and Houdini,” says Executive Director Joe Callahan. “It forces kids to learn how to tell great stories, to build climax, to play with words. There’s also a long history of magical realism that can play into writing. I think we’ll have a lot of great stories that come from it.”
Callahan says the Tivoli Theatre is a good fit for a magic store, given its vaulted ceilings, columns and marble staircases. “We wanted to sell real magic tricks and really take that theme to the next level,” says Callahan. “If you’re a young kid, the only place around here to get anything like this would be internet. Now you have a place to go that’s fun and exciting too.”