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Topic: Al's Magic has Vanished
Message: Posted by: Greg Owen (Apr 26, 2004 10:32AM)
Not sure if this is the best place to post this...

...but, on April 12, 2004, Al's Magic in Washington, DC closed it doors for the last time.

The web store, alsmagic.com, also redirects to a non-store site.

This is the shop where I cut my teeth - I bought my first tricks from Al's when the shop was located on Pennsylvania Avenue.

For those that don't know, Al sold the shop a year or so ago to Steve Brown who has made a go of it. Not a good enough go I suppose.

Al's, and Al, will be missed.

- Greg Owen
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Apr 26, 2004 10:32PM)
Nothing could ever match the old Pennsylvania Avenue location.

I was a Junior High School kid, and wandering into that dim, musty old shop was unforgettable. The strange props, the friendly-but-jeez-it's-another-darned-kid reception, the feeling that anything - dragons, zombies, the gate to Wonderland - ANYTHING AT ALL could have been hiding in the dark back of the shop.

The stuff dreams are made of...
Message: Posted by: Zorak (May 28, 2004 09:37AM)
We will all miss Al's Magic Shop, but mostly we miss Al himself. In the 4 decades I have been in magic I have never met a better demo man or all around likable guy.
Al Cohen was no only a great magician, but a very generous and charismatic guy.
Many times Al sold me tricks that I already owned. He did them so well, I didn't recognize them. Al could sell a glass of water to a drowning man, but he wouldn't sell you any junk.
When my business,(Majart Studios) started up, Al enthusiastically marketed my products. He gave me great confidence and respect. This respect is something I shall always have for my friend, Al Cohen.
May he live as long as he wants because his legend will live on long after he leaves us. Love you Al!
Message: Posted by: Jeffrey Cowan (Jun 21, 2004 07:24PM)
Not only was Al's a GREAT store with a substantial inventory and good demonstrators (from Al on down), but the shop itself was an ideal spot to nurture and grow the next generation of magicians. Al's "Jr. Mystics of DC" was a terrific club for adolescents and teenagers, and the monthly Saturday morning meetings in the back room were a tremendous experience. Al's "mini-lecture" was usually terrific, and the guest performers he brought in were out of this world. I still remember walking out of a meeting, shaking my hand in wonder at how brutally the likes of Bob Fitch and Tim Conover had fooled me. On non-meeting Saturday mornings, lessons could be had in the back room, or small groups of "approved" guys could go back there to show each other a trick at the table.

Plus, Al regularly had terrific lectures for his "regular" patrons. Goshman and Scotty York come to mind initially. It lasted initially during the first relocation (where there was another back room), but all of that had to go when the shop moved to Vermont Avenue. Still, there was Al. Who incidentally looks TERRIFIC. I bumped into him in January at the Kennedy Center and he was vibrant and in great spirits.

The closing of the shop is the end of an era. And a great loss for Washington, DC.
Message: Posted by: Wizardwannabe (Jul 7, 2005 09:19PM)
Wasn't there a president who used to patronize Al's shop? I seem to recall reading something like that but I can't for the life of me remember which one? Truman, maybe, or was he to early?
Message: Posted by: Sean Comer (Sep 5, 2005 10:27PM)
I lived in Annapolis and would get to Al's as much as possible. Al, Stan and his Ace demonstrator (Mike?). I still think one of the best purchcases I made, and still use to this day is Al's Coin Funnel. In any event, Al's was awesome. I was just in SF last month and went to The House of Magic on Chestnut St. Very cool and a lot like Al's. Tony and Mark are nice and very helpful.
Message: Posted by: wally (Sep 7, 2005 02:41PM)
Has anyone here seen or got the large size tricky bowling pinns . what your verdict.
Message: Posted by: JJP161 (Jul 14, 2006 01:24AM)
For years Al Cohen was a regular at Magi-Fest. We would spend hours in his dealer room, definitely our favorite stop every year. I still have his Coin Funnel and The Kockomany Cup, two absolutely great routines that I had the pleasure to learn right from Mr. Cohen. The Dealer rooms aren't the same without him.

Message: Posted by: Douglas.M (Aug 21, 2006 09:42PM)
The first card trick I ever bought, after my family moved to DC:

"Vee don't care vot you say...Dots Impossible!"

I still have a set!

Als was an institution.

Douglas M.
Message: Posted by: David Todd (Aug 30, 2006 04:29PM)
Al Cohen ran a great magic shop. (Al and his guys actually demonstrated the tricks they sold , unlike most places today where you can't get the person behind the counter to show anything except for certain "pitch" items that they have learned by rote to sell to the tourists. )

Al is writing an ongoing column in Genii magazine about his many years as a magic shop owner. Fascinating reading. Check it out .

Message: Posted by: e-man (Jan 17, 2007 02:43AM)
George Bush Sr. was the president who would visit AL @ Al's
Message: Posted by: Magic_Steve (Jan 22, 2007 10:52PM)
I remember going in there many times. My first purchase from there (believe it or not, I still remember) was a TT, some silks, the Known Unknown and the Impossible (which I still use too!), Dime and Penny, and the Card Frame (red frame where pencil goes through the card). I lvoed going in there, and they were always makin me good broke too ;)! After Al left, I still went in there and Steve still kept the shop goin good to. I miss Al's...

Thanks for the great memories!
Message: Posted by: sparks (Jan 23, 2007 05:28AM)
Was this the shop on Vermont Ave? During a trip to D.C. many years ago I tried to find a shop that was on Vermont and it turned into a nightmare. It turned out the street was in two places and they did not connect. I spent a very long time looking for the shop on the wrong half of the street (not knowing about the other non-connected part of the street). When I finally found the other half of the street (and the shop) I was pretty frazzled. The parking situation looked like a nightmare so I just drove back to my hotelů having had enough of driving in D.C. traffic. Now I wish I had gone inů at the time I thought I would just visit it another time.
Message: Posted by: bugjack (Jan 23, 2007 08:50PM)
Yes, it used to be on Vermont, but my memories are mostly from the very long, narrow and wonderfully old shop on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Vermont Ave shop never had the same atmosphere.
Message: Posted by: Kim (Feb 26, 2007 01:25PM)
I cut my teeth at Al's. From the 70's till his selling of it, I was a very frequent, then infrequent visitor.
He went through many demonstrators, when I first started going it was Al'his father (Macy?) and his son Stan. That was when they were on Pennsylvania Avenue.
There was a store between that location and Vermont Avenue, but I cant remember the location now.
I remember seeing Slydini at his store.
I remember seeing Scotty York there.

Great memories, great people.
Message: Posted by: e-man (Jul 2, 2007 12:54AM)
I wonder wher Mike is now from Al's magic shop 1012 Vermont Ave
Anyone know..?
Message: Posted by: Steve Cook (Jul 4, 2007 04:53PM)
I never had the opportunity of visiting Al's shop but, I often visited his stand
at conventions here in England. He was always attentive, courteous, a very good 'demmer' and a gentleman. His merchandise was of very good quality (you could always find something a little different) and, his prices were very reasonable. Al Cohen was up there with the best of them. I wish him well with all he does. I miss
seeing him around at conventions. Take care Al. You won't remember me... but I'll remember youi!
Message: Posted by: blackartman (Jul 7, 2007 09:12AM)
I loved this shop. it inspired my magic career when I was 11 and I'll never forget Al doing demos for me. I always will remember some kid that did rising card and he also levitated for us!
Message: Posted by: Michaels (Jul 15, 2007 12:39AM)
My first visit to Al's at 13th and Pennsylvania Ave was in 1963. Al, my father (Al's fraternity brother from Maryland) and I watched John F. Kennedy's funeral from the second story above the shop. An experience I'll never forget. It wasn't until five years later that I started visiting the shop every week to cultivate my interest in magic. Unfortunately, the last time I saw Al was at my father's funeral 22 years ago. Al, you're not only a great magician, you're a great man. Stay healthy and continue to have the fun that you always shared with us. If it wasn't for your shop, I may not have met one of my best friends today, Larry Davidson.
Lots of love to you and your family,
Bruce (Michaels) Starr
Message: Posted by: ScottRSullivan (Jul 15, 2007 10:16AM)
About two weeks ago (June 24), Hank Moorehouse interviewed Al Cohen on stage at Bob Little's Super Sunday. It was a great interview and Al's stories captivated the audience, myself included.

Thanks everyone for the stories so far!

Message: Posted by: bugjack (Jul 15, 2007 03:01PM)
Scott, will you doing a Magic Lantern podcast with Al? I'd really love hearing that...
Message: Posted by: ScottRSullivan (Jul 15, 2007 05:17PM)
Hmmm. I guess I'm letting the cat out of the bag, but you might want to listen to Episode 15 which will be coming out mid-week. *grin*

We recorded the interview that Hank did with Al and will be airing it on the Lantern. It runs just under an hour and is a good one!

Message: Posted by: bugjack (Jul 15, 2007 06:36PM)
That's really great. Al's Magic Shop is such a huge memory from my childhood through early teen years. Al sold me dozens of tricks and books at the old Pennsylvania Avenue location, and trips there were highlights of weekend afternoons with my father. I can still remember the long, dark layout, the uneven wooden floors, and the crowded window full of all the other novelty stuff they sold. I'm going to really look forward to hearing this.


Message: Posted by: ScottRSullivan (Aug 11, 2007 02:46PM)

We've uploaded the Al Cohen episode of The Magic Lantern at the [url=http://www.reelsinmotion.tv]Reels in Motion[/url] site. Here's a link to the show:


It's a great interview. He talks about Henning coming into the shop, plus lots of other celebs. Hope you enjoy!

Message: Posted by: bugjack (Aug 12, 2007 10:42AM)
Hey Scott,

Thanks for posting this -- I'll download this now.

Like I said, a lot of memories go back to weekend visits to Al's in the 70s.


Message: Posted by: Macphail (Jun 16, 2013 03:55PM)
I still miss Al's. I grew up drooling over his catalog. I remember visiting last in 2001, and asked to see Al. He wasn't in but the man asked who I was. When I gave my named, the man said "oh, you are Ralph's son!" I was so proud.

Al was an incredible demonstrator and inventor. He always performed the trick better than his customers. Does anyone know if he's still around?
Message: Posted by: Tom G (Jun 16, 2013 04:12PM)
He writes an occasional column for Genii.
Message: Posted by: bugjack (Jun 16, 2013 05:03PM)
It's funny to read this on Father's Day. I so associate that place with my father. He came back from a business trip once with the obligatory kid's magic set for me. I guess I got hooked, so one day he told me there was an actual magic shop in D.C. and began taking me there on Saturdays. My dad worked on Capitol Hill, and he'd go in for half a day of work, take me to Reeves Coffee Shop for lunch and then Al's Magic Shop. I too remember the dark, mysterious vibe of that long, narrow Pennsylvania Avenue location. I started doing kid's shows so I'd buy the usual kid show tricks, and then I'd buy whatever the new Emerson and West packet trick was. This was probably the very early 1970s. I never went to any of the meetings or lecture events or took part in the club, and years later, after ditching magic for 25 years and then returning, kind of regret that I wasn't more serious about it back then. Rather than work my way through Royal Road I'd be happy with another vinyl wallet and some cards with funny illustrations on them. That said, there was an aura to that old shop I still remember.

As an aside, I remember when a local magician named Mark Chorvinsky opened a shop named Dream Wizards in Rockville, MD. The shop mixed magic, science fiction books and roleplaying and strategy games, so it hit on everything I was into at the time. Mark tried to intercede a bit on some of my purchases by telling me what made sense for a kid to perform and what didn't. Dream Wizards put out some of their own stuff, beginning with John Kennedy's Floating Dollar Bill, which, if I remember correctly, was $10 -- a lot at the time for a five or so pages of stapled instructions and the IT. I did a Google search a while back to see what became of Mark and was sad to see that he passed away.
Message: Posted by: magicdave56 (Jun 18, 2013 03:00PM)
Dose any one know where I can get a trick that call Piddle Paddle Al's used to have it.
Message: Posted by: magicdave56 (Jul 9, 2013 10:22AM)
Who took over his shop ?