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Topic: Brick and Mortar Shop
Message: Posted by: criverstamu09 (Sep 19, 2007 10:19PM)
Howdy!

I am considering opening a brick-and-mortar shop and I would like to correspond with some people who have/do own their own shops. Thanks in advance for the help.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Sep 20, 2007 08:33AM)
One of the best Brick-and-Mortar shops I have visited recently was Mr. Magic in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is a real surprise to find such a large well-stocked shop anywhere. To find it in the mid-west is a shocker. However, the better booking agents are now in Oklahoma!

When I started as a professional entertainer in the 50s, New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama were the primary centers of the business side of the industry. (Therefore, I had offices in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and New York.) Once Disney moved to Florida the world started changing. Next month I work for a movie producer in Memphis. Lucy and I sold the Los Angeles house over a year ago. We were just never there. Wednesday we ship out to New York but the shows are on Lake Ontario, not in NYC.

I donít know where you are. However, location matters but where the work is matters more. You need traffic from working magicians. They create traffic from aspiring magicians for your shop. The good customers are aspiring magicians. Pros use other sources.

To contact Mr. Magic, contact Jim Henson in Little Rock (501) 455-6242. Every serious magician needs to visit the shop. Iím glad I did. Hopefully, I'll get to drop by again in March on my way to do magic in the Ozarks.

Good luck to you.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: MattWayne (Sep 20, 2007 01:44PM)
Oh dear-- all I can say to you is-- and it's going to sound horrible--- don't do it! If you know of Denny Haney; and Denny & Lees- listen to what I have to say. I've worked with Den at his studio, I've heard what he's had to say. He passed all his info. onto me about the business side of magic.

While working at his shop; there were nonstop calls. Magicians internationally calling asking for the smallest bit of advice. Most of these calls went to Denny- the others I handled. Be prepared; if you do this-- to be hounded by hobbyist performers!! Guys that haven't read their books; and if you tell them to read- they get offended. Magicians are the cheapest people in the world! Most of them want tricks; they have their tricks- they're happy. Most will not take your profesional advice. They think they know it all! Which, sadly-- most DO NOT!

I would get so annoyed. You'll get magicians who will call you and tell you about watching Slydini or something on youtube. Random calls from people just seeing how you're doing. This is wasted time for you-- you're truly running a business; and people are calling to chat-- not place orders. If you're experienced in magic; then you know whats good and you have a solid opinion on something. Magicians will disagree with you and tell you how they would do something-- when you are the one who's had the experience. It will drive you insane!! You'll get guys that will place orders for: one thumb tip and one red silk. Pointless order to even ring up there and ship out. Five dollar order and six dollars shipping.

If you do open a shop: Make it clear that if you have mail orders- that everything ordered like silks, or mouth coils, or hanks of rope; be ordered in bulk. This will keep you sane for a while at least.

Silks are a major headache. Reds are always sold out, because magicians only limit themselves to that particular color. BUT- when you place an order for them from a wholesale company-- you can't buy JUST red; you have to get an assortment!! Those other colors will sit on the shelf!

Denny & Lees is the largest retail store in the world, the best. I would handle all the shipping and take all the phone calls initially. Be prepared for this if you're going to open up a large store.

It was a constant headache at the store; for both Den and myself. Frustrating at times to even get work done. Running a magic shop; is a life chore. I learned so much from working there; mainly-- to never open up a magic shop. Denny loves his shop and customers-- I on the other hand was always frustrated ha ha.

Stick to performing. If you go into the retail side of magic; you're going to wish you hadn't. Or, at least if you're shop is as large as D&Lees.

I've worked for three magic shops in my life thus far. Every single one had it's own problems. Denny & Lees was the best though.

If you do decide to do this- stock quality merchandise. Please, DON'T be a Magic Makers dealer. You will not get any business. Or, if you do- you're business over time will dwindle and fade out. Yes, the stuff is cheap for you to get wholesale. Rob Stiff makes sure of that! But, you get what you pay for. Essentially you're buying junk. Try and resist the urge also to stock Penguin Magic effects. Carry Tarbell volumes, and the classics. Teach the new guys the right way. You'll also have the respect of the pros in the business.

Denny will tell anyone this who's even thinking about opening a shop. Give him a call if you want to hear it all from him. Those are just my two cents from good experience.

You'll learn to hate magicians; if you open a shop. They'll talk your ear off and not buy a thing. They'll look and play around with the props, but then go online to get a DISCOUNT! They are cheap.

Good luck to you! If you'd like anymore info; don't hesitate to contact me.
best regards,
Matt Tomasko
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Sep 20, 2007 01:49PM)
Great advice Matt. I personally thank you for sharing your direct and insightful information with us here. Denny speaks the truth and tells it like it is and is one of the people in magic whos opinion I really cherish. He knows his thing.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: MattWayne (Sep 20, 2007 01:54PM)
Everything I said was true! That's the horrible thing; I'm rereading it thinking, 'oh my gosh- I'm so brutally honest.' But, you know how magicians are. I could go on and on more. Perhaps if the post grows; I'll keep adding things...

Matt
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Sep 20, 2007 02:02PM)
I helped at a shop my brother co-owned for 2 years and we experienced the same type of thing. It is very hard to make ends meet and to do everything you need to do just to stay ahead of the game. This is not to say it can not be done. It just takes a lot to do it well and many people jump into it without doing their homework first. You also must know business and marketing. if not, then you better keep your day job.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: JamesTong (Sep 20, 2007 03:11PM)
I agree with Matt fully on his views. And his experience is certainly valuable.

The pain and headaches of owning and managing a magic shop is universal. I see that happens in all the brick and mortar shops I have visited throughout the Asia Pacific countries.

In addition to that I also experience the same with mine too. But because I manage my business differently I don't experience what other dealers are experiencing.

My marketing concepts are totally different. I focus only on niche market - people having the money and willing to pay for quality, and my expertise for teaching them. And I only operate by appointments. That way I can only focus on the business side of things - to generate profits from my business.
.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Sep 20, 2007 03:12PM)
That really is the key. You really have to understand and know the business and marketing side in order to really keep a magic shop running well and making a profit. Knowing and loving magic is just not enough.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Magic_Steve (Sep 20, 2007 03:36PM)
Denny is a great guy and a helluva ententertainer! One of the best IMO, and certainly knows his stuff. Also, Denny doesn't sell junk! Plain and simple. the stuff he sells is the stuff that works, w/o a doubt.

Thanks for the great posts Matt!
Steve
Message: Posted by: MattWayne (Sep 20, 2007 03:49PM)
Interesting concept there.

If you want to be successful with a shop here's what Dennys told me:

Stock just the basics. Tarbell Courses, thumb tips, scotch and soda. Don't go crazy and buy out all of what Murphys Magic is supplying. Stuff coming out today is really just junk. Impractical stuff. The good stuff is in books; classic pieces of magic are great! It's what should be taught.

Stock what isn't popular. No street magic crap. Just good old magic props, and time tested books that have been around. All the Lorayne books, Card College, Fitzkee Trilogy, Slydini material, etc. All these individual DVDs can always be special ordered, but don't clutter your shelves with them. They'll sit there.

Proven DVDs that sell:

Wilsons, 'Royal Road to Card Magic'
McBride Manipulation DVDs
Roth Coin Magic Sets
Ammar DVDs- Cards/thread/etc
Daryls DVDs- Ropes/cards/everything

There are more- many more, but to give you a quick idea..


If you build a lot of in store magician traffic; then you can expand to fill their DVD desires. But, chances are-- that will take time to build up the magician customers. You'll be caitering to the average layperson interested in magic. 'Tricky Rickys' we used to call them in the shop. Just want tricks and nothing more.

Everyday a new packet trick comes out- geesh we would get tons of samples in at the shop. Half of them were junk- some were somewhat original; others were pointless. The good thing about packet tricks is they wholesale for a reasonable price. You could get a bunch of these to fill the shelves. When you start; only get those that you yourself feel would sell- not because they're new, etc. You'll be familar with them yourself and can demo without fear. After a while; you'll end up getting a few items that are 'new' just to appease those magicians that, 'Oh, I gotta get it because it's new' types...

To appease the local magicians- also, get the store associated with MAGIC/Genii Magazine. Order a dozen or so of each- each month. Those sell, but then again-- no big profit there. But it gets the locals into your shop...

Get hooked up with Theatre FX company- for all your flash paper, flash cotton, cord, and string needs. Also, flash guns- double and single loads. Smoke pots, colors, and gels. They're great people- and the girls that work there are veryyy adorable!! Give them a call; you'll see! Anywho...

D. Robbins is a great distributor for you to sign up with. They'll have your Tarbell Courses, 13 Steps to Mentalism books, Expert at the Card Table books, LePaul softbound books. Routined Manipulations by Ganson, etc, etc, etc. Robbins is a great place to start. There are other wholesalers out there- but to start with; they're very reasonable and kind. I've spoken with them many a times! Good company to work with...

As far as buying books; to start I'd buy two of everything. One for when you sell the other. Get into the habit of placing restock orders. Key word: restock. You're ordering it again for a reason--- because you sold one copy!! That should tell you that it's a good selling product. Don't order 'new' stuff in; and not refill the good merchandise.

That's another two cents. I'm sure there will be more to come. Man, I could do a whole topic on this!!

regards,
Matt Tomasko
Message: Posted by: criverstamu09 (Sep 20, 2007 04:14PM)
I really appreciate all the advice you guys are giving here. It is really helping answer most of my questions as to distributors and "a day-in-the-life" type things.
Message: Posted by: MattWayne (Sep 20, 2007 04:19PM)
I could write a book for you on the topic! Ha ha-- after working a standard of 10 hour/16 hour days; yeah it would be a big volume!
Message: Posted by: JamesTong (Sep 20, 2007 05:27PM)
Thanks for sharing, Matt. Your valuable info would be highly useful to those wanting to set up shop.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Sep 20, 2007 09:29PM)
[quote]
On 2007-09-20 14:44, TomaskoMagic wrote:


Silks are a major headache. Reds are always sold out, because magicians only limit themselves to that particular color. BUT- when you place an order for them from a wholesale company-- you can't buy JUST red; you have to get an assortment!! Those other colors will sit on the shelf!

Matt Tomasko
[/quote]

Matt,

While I agree with much of what you say, Silk is my specialty.

I would like to expand on what you say here. Since 1969, I have been in the import business and I am the magicians' silk importer. (The people in China tell me I have the largest inventory of magicians' pure silk in the USA.) However, I am not a jobber. Jobbers are the ones who typically sell assortments and that serves a purpose for small shops. Shops tend to not buy deep inventories. It is too great an investment for many.

As the silk importer, I put NO RESTRICTIONS ON COLORS and mixes of silks (size or color) and NEVER have. A wholesale customer can always buy only red, if they like, and even mix the sizes! Some manufacturers only buy one or two colors ever! Probably 30% or more of all the silk I import is red. Red is not in short supply at all because it is made for me in China. A very fine silk retailer that many magicians think is the largest in the USA only carries ten of the colors I offer. The magicians think that retailer is the largest because it effectively advertises to the general magic population. (As the importer, I do not advertise.)

Facts are that retailers can buy all the red silk they want without having to take other colors or sizes.

Perhaps that is not available through jobbers. Yet jobbers allow small shops to buy a wider assortment of magic inventory (cards, silks, boxes, balloons, coins, books, DVDs etc.) at one time than a true importer/wholesaler/manufacturer might offer. Also, small retailers often cannot come up with an order large enough to buy directly from the importer/wholesaler/manufacturer. Therefore, they think they are restricted to what the jobber offers.

Hobbyists tend to buy the color demonstrated. Many magic shops only carry five colors or less. Tricks like Knots-Off silk, 20th Century Silks, 4-Color Change, THIS (Improved), Duck/Rabbit, MisMade Flag, all streamers, etc. come in many colors and color combinations. However, shops carry only a very small fraction of what is available in terms of colors and sizes. There is also the fact that many retailers do not know many sources of inventory. It makes it tough!

Retailers don't have it easy. I admire the survivors. They work very hard to get the magicians' business.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: JamesTong (Sep 21, 2007 03:25AM)
Thanks, Bob, for the info. I did not realise you import huge quantities of silks and do wholesale. I will contact you for my wholesale needs.
Message: Posted by: gmmagic124 (Sep 24, 2007 11:58AM)
[quote]
On 2007-09-20 17:14, criverstamu09 wrote:
I really appreciate all the advice you guys are giving here. It is really helping answer most of my questions as to distributors and "a day-in-the-life" type things.
[/quote]

Cheers to that!
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Sep 28, 2007 05:47PM)
Create a shop with novelities, party supplies, and fun gagets ..... This will appeal to a wide range of people and just not the magicians...

Also, I would suggest create your shop in a touristy area or well traffic area but with affordable rent...

Cheers
Message: Posted by: MagiClyde (Sep 28, 2007 09:05PM)
[quote]You'll learn to hate magicians; if you open a shop. They'll talk your ear off and not buy a thing. They'll look and play around with the props, but then go online to get a DISCOUNT! They are cheap. [/quote]

Yes, we're cheap! We're trying to survive on our meager wages like everyone else. After all, spending money is the quickest vanishing act of all!

But I do understand your point. I saw a kid at my local magic shop, after having "Royal Road" pointed out to him speculating about getting it online for less, if not free! It was pointed out to him by a local magician that he wasn't going to be able to get it much cheaper and that the book was right there for him to be able to start studying that day.

Two other things that I've noticed over the past year of hanging out at Larry's shop.

1. Almost none of the magicians from the local clubs ever come into the shop to buy anything.

2. Quite a few parents stop in with their kids who got their interest by watching David Blaine or Criss Angel perform on TV, or they want to do something for a show that the school is presenting.

Larry works very hard at what he does. In fact, I have seen him stand on his feet for hours performing tricks for people who just come in to browse and then, after being there a while, walk out without buying anything. Worse, he doesn't get many chances to eat anything or take bathroom breaks. If you don't believe me, just call him at his shop. His phone number is on his website.

http://beamazingmagicshop.com/

TomaskoMagic, I found your suggestion to call Denny rather humorous after telling us how busy he was answering calls all day! :lol:
Message: Posted by: Magic_Steve (Sep 28, 2007 09:59PM)
[quote]
On 2007-09-28 18:47, magicofCurtis wrote:
Create a shop with novelities, party supplies, and fun gagets ..... This will appeal to a wide range of people and just not the magicians...

Also, I would suggest create your shop in a touristy area or well traffic area but with affordable rent...

Cheers
[/quote]

HA! Tell that one to Denny...he doesn't have any of that crap in his shop. Strictly magic. No dog crap, vomit, gags, etc. Just a ton of books, dvds, quality props, etc. I'm sure Matt would definitely agree with me on that one... :)
Message: Posted by: MattWayne (Sep 28, 2007 10:48PM)
I do! Very much agree with that. No doggie doo or fake snot- none of that! If you want that; then go to Spencers Gifts! Go to a joke shop; because that's what those items are. Magic Shop- hence the title: equals only magic. We used to get tons of calls... "Yeah hi there; do you sell balloons? Shocking hand gizmos? Squirting nickels?"--- no! We're a maaagggicc shop! Ha- that's what I would yell out everytime I would take one of those calls. Ahhhh-- I miss it!

Obviously- those calls were non magicians. Rightfully so too; that they call a magic shop. MOST shops need the fake vomit and squishy plastic rats to even get by. Very few shops can survive on just magic alone. So, they were justified in calling. But geesh-- yes I handled many a 'dog poo' questions...

Curtis brings up some good points. I can see where he's going with opening a magic shop in a touristy area. That totally could work out. Look at the Disney Land shops! Houdinis Magic. Great- thriving company! I have nothing against novelty shops; they're pretty nifty to go into. Once you start getting into cheap novelty items though; that's all you'll be known for. Magicians-- at least pros- more than likely won't go down to the joke shop to hang out. Also, it would be great like Curtis said-- if you found a decent rent price. However-- in a tourist area.... hmmm. I know our Vegas shop pays a pretty penny to be there. You'll need a good $$$ foundation to get started.

I've been in some great tourist magic shops. When I had my show out in Chicago once; I stopped into one. The name escapes me-- dang it! Very classy. Heck; someone help me with the name of it. Anywho- they were doing great with pushing scotch and sodas out the door, Svengali/Stripper/Marked decks, etc. They were strictly magic however. That's why they were doing a good business! Once you start getting into other branches of """magic""" (novelties, etc)- then you'll get very overworked. Stick to the magic...

Anyway- I'm off to bed. I'll probably have nightmares of people calling asking for the, 'fake ice with a fly in it' prop. Ahhh!

regards,
Matt Tomasko
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Sep 29, 2007 09:23AM)
TomaskoMagic said - "We used to get tons of calls... "Yeah hi there; do you sell balloons? Shocking hand gizmos? Squirting nickels?"--- no!"

That is why you were complaining that you were not making any money.. YOU FOCUSED on a small market "Magicians" and you stated they were cheap...... I understand you would like a shop for only Magicians to hangout and sell high price flashy props... But, the magician who can afford such goes to the big boys for the most part....

Create a shop that focuses on many levels as well as magicians....
I seen a shop were they had a pro case section and another section for the begginers and a section for the junk...... Bottom line is MAKING money at something you ENJOY!

"Never work a day in your life if you do something you love"
Message: Posted by: MagiClyde (Sep 29, 2007 07:16PM)
[quote]We used to get tons of calls... "Yeah hi there; do you sell balloons? Shocking hand gizmos? Squirting nickels?"--- no! We're a maaagggicc shop! Ha- that's what I would yell out everytime I would take one of those calls. Ahhhh-- I miss it![/quote]

These are people that, once they were in the shop to buy their novelty item, could have checked out the other, magical, offerings that you had. Handling the calls the way you did could only serve to drive potential customers away. I can just imagine their "What a jerk, I'll never shop there" reactions once they were off the phone with you. Good customer skills are a vital part of any business.
Message: Posted by: MattWayne (Sep 30, 2007 12:05PM)
Howdy howdy,

Curtis- I don't think I ever complained about the shop not making money. Don't know if that comment was regarding Denny & Lees or just regular 'Joe's Magic.' Seemingly do very well at the Denny & Lee Studio. In the gist of ''money making'' magic shops at least; take that with a grain of salt though. There's obviously more profittable business ventures out there.

Perhaps I'm taking your posting too seriously, but I don't want 'just a magic shop'-- we already have it. Plus, it's not mine by any means-- I merely worked for the company. Both the Baltimore, MD. shop- and the Las Vegas location; I think very highly of the shops: consdering them the, 'big boy' shop in magic supplies. My thoughts were just based off of MY experiences working for one of the busiest shops around. With it being the busiest-- surely some of you should be able to understand my gripes and reasoning??

I feel this post is turning into a big negative. Primarily to my honesty regarding my experiences with magic shops.

"""Handling the calls the way you did could only serve to drive potential customers away. I can just imagine their What a jerk, I'll never shop there reactions once they were off the phone with you. Good customer skills are a vital part of any business."""

First off- I've never been rude to a Denny & Lee customer. The customers I worked with over the phone are some of the best guys out there. Those who know the shop; know that's it's based off of great customer service. The shop thrives off of that. MY comments are merely based off of experience; experiences that I HAD after I got off the phone- with people who aren't serious performers, laymen in general, or just time wasters. I would never be rude to a customer directly. Those who have met me know this. Those who DO know me personally know that I know my magic and am well read. So, when I used to get calls from non experienced people- still suggesting that they're correct in their non educated claims--- sure, I think even you would be annoyed. In my postings I was giving you all the 'worst case' scenarios from MY experiences. Written word is stronger than the spoken word sometimes; I think in this case- my replies are giving some the wrong impression.

I'm actually feeling distraught right now typing this. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so brutally honest after all. In no way is the Denny & Lee Studio personally like that. ME- yes. Denny & Lees- no. Those who know me personally know that I, 'tell it like it is ' I don't sugar coat anything And... what's written above- is the way it is in a magic shop. FOR ME only- as the customer service Rep. You'll LOVE your customers, but at the same time you'll HATE your customers. That's the best way I can put it. Nothing personal at all It has nothing to do with who that person is as a performer. It was always just the simple minded 'one thought- one way' guys that irked me. I've even dealt with some of the top name's in magic; and even they can be annoying in their questions. That's all.

My experience has no bearing on how the, 'Denny & Lee Corporation' functions or is as a magic supplier. I can't stress that enough! They're the best in the world. Please don't let my thoughts- influence you otherwise. I'm just a grumpy sort of person I guess.

As always,
Best regards,
Matt Tomasko
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Sep 30, 2007 05:55PM)
Matt,

I do not think that you are negative - just plainly honest. I second your view. In most cases make more money running a sandwich bar.

I recall Denny in his Cafť interview stated that he made a million - after investing two . . .

Andy
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Sep 30, 2007 07:31PM)
As one of Matt's customers - and he can probably attest to the fact I was in the shop almost as much as those working there - I know he's simply talking about the the workaday side of being in a retail business and not in personal terms. His manner with any customer I ever saw, including me, was nothing but helpful, and always with a sense of humor, as have been everyone in the shop. I spent a bit of time in retail and there is always work to be done and it's always a balance between what needs to be done in the stock room and up front.

So Matt, don't feel bad about sharing the realities of working in a high-traffic shop, because the advice of someone who speaks from experience is the most valuable kind of advice one can get.

Charley
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Sep 30, 2007 08:46PM)
Maybe you came off too strong.... Just did not deliver the message as well informed worker but more of know it all smart punk..... So I think that is why people are responding in this manner...

I am sure you enjoy your job but.... Hey... I use balloons in my comedy magic act and what if I need a bag... ????
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Oct 14, 2007 07:38PM)
Since much of my time is on the road (in just one week in September I drove 1700 miles doing magic and lectures) I go into the different shops when I can.

I was very impressed with the depth of inventory at the shop in Little Rock, Arkansas. It may not be on the net at all but certainly worth a look if you get nearby. In reality, I expect that its dollar inventory exceeded many of the "big name" shops in major cities. The owner is Jim Henson.

This old marketing professor was very pleasantly surprised.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander