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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Flavors from the past... » » Good brick and mortar shops, reviews (US) (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

chiartguy
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I love brick and mortar magic shops! Many of those that are still around are an invaluable resource for seeing tricks in person, hard to find books, overall wisdom, encouragement, and a sense of community with fellow magicians. I'm actually a little obsessed with visiting as many good b&m magic shops as I can before they all go the way of the dodo bird, so to speak.

I've been scouring the Café and the internet in general for a comprehensive listing of brick and mortar magic shops, particularly in the US. It's been frustrating because so much of the information is out of date -- people created decent lists 10+ years ago but sadly many of the shops have closed or moved since then.

Among the existing shops it's also hard to tell which are worth making a long trip to visit. I do like supporting any type of b&m magic shop but as we know they are not all created equal. Some have nice websites that are quite enticing, but turn out not to have much to offer in terms of stock on hand and other services in person. Some have very helpful, knowledgable, and friendly staff. Some do not.

If anyone here has a link to a good listing of shops that are still in business, I'd appreciate it.

It would also be nice to get some more detailed info on the shops you frequent and love, and what precisely you think is so great about them. I even find it helpful to learn that a certain shop is especially useful for just one thing (like a great book selection, great magic club meetings, or a particularly knowledgable owner) but maybe not so good with other things (maybe they're open odd hours, have a cantankerous shopkeeper, or the prices are a little high). I'd love to hear from those of you who have travelled extensively and can compare shops from around the country.
MrSteve
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Please see my "Magic in California" post for bricks and mortar shops in the Golden State. There are currently at least 14 of them. One of the smallest is one of the best: Magic Galore & More, located (if you can believe it) in a bowling alley! What makes the shop special is its owner, Ken Sands, who is both a really good magician and a really good teacher. It's quite a drive for me down to Orange County, but I am hoping to take some one-on-one classes from him. They're only open Fri-Sat-Sun. In all of Los Angeles there's really only The Magic Apple, a nice shop with very knowledgable staff. It gets busy on the weekends and service takes a little longer, but a number of magicians enjoy hanging out there. As good as these shops are, I don't think either is compelling enough for a trip from the Midwest. (Unless you were mixing the Magic Castle into the equation.)

One more thought: Although they don't have a retail operation, Hocus Pocus in Fresno has two large warehouses, one crammed with classic illusions and other vintage magic. Call ahead to see if they will let you in.

Your post is ironic since at one time Chicago had as many or more great magic shops than New York or Los Angeles, plus the liveliest magic bar scene in the country. Unfortunately some of those folks sought the California sunshine (Joe Berg, Senator Crandall, etc. etc.) Good luck on your search.
Wizard of Oz
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Even though I live in Cleveland, I try to visit The Cuckoos Nest in Pittsburgh at least once a year. They do a very good job of keeping up with new releases, as well as a great inventory of classic props and standard gimmicks. Their DVD and book collection is top-notch, and they even keep a good stock of trendy designer card decks. Always friendly. Love that place.

Here in Cleveland we have Illusions Magic and Costume. Buck runs the shop and is a great guy who is more than happy to shoot the s**t with any visitor. He loves cards and books...plenty of books. I think I built half of my library from his inventory. Also keeps a great stock of DVDs. Definitely worth a visit.

Was in New York a few times this summer and visited Fantasma Magic and Tannens. Both fun shops to visit. Tannens was better stocked - at least for my needs - plus Magick works there, so ya got that going for ya. But, Fantasma has a mini-museum of Houdini artifacts. My wife, who hates magic...but loves history, couldn't stop talking about it. So, go to both shops. They're actually very close to one another in Manhattan.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
chiartguy
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Here is the helpful post about California magic shops that MrSteve is referring to:

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......c=592777

And thanks, Wizard of Oz, for your input as well.

I'll start a list of shops I've visited in the past year or two (beginning with Illinois where I live).

- Midwest Magic (Franklin Park, IL)
very well-stocked shop; great selection of new books, used books, pamphlets/lecture notes, DVDs, tricks, and supplies; at least one magic club meets there regularly; occasional lectures in the shop's small performance space; magicians frequently hang out and session

- Magic Inc. (Chicago, IL)
in early 2016 they moved to a new location on Lawrence Avenue (which is somewhat smaller than the previous historic location on Lincoln Avenue); good selection of books, DVDs, tricks, and supplies; frequent lectures and performances on-site

- Ash's Magic Shop (Chicago, IL)
Mr. Ash, the owner, is the best part of this shop as he has an unlimited supply of stories about the history of magic in Chicago (many of which are hilarious); the store is somewhat small and cluttered but if you have a few hours to dig around you might find a hidden gem

- Potter & Potter Auctions (Chicago, IL)
while not technically a magic shop, this auction house specializes in hard to find vintage magic books, apparatus, and ephemera; auctions are held frequently; mentioned here because they have a brick and mortar location where you can attend the auctions and see the items for sale in person (you can bid online as well)

- Bob James Magic Shop (Elmhurst, IL)
nice little suburban shop; I found a few good deals in the small used book section; some "cabinet of curiosities" items for sale like antique medical equipment; fun vintage fortune telling machine in the shop that dispenses cards with fortunes on them

- PJ's Trick Shop (Arlington Heights, IL)
another suburban magic shop with a mediocre selection but the owner does know some tricks to demonstrate at the counter; some of the books from their very limited stock are on sale if you check the website before you go; fun gag gifts

- Dallas & Co. (Champaign, IL)
this huge costume store has a small magic shop hidden in a back room; call ahead because the magic back room is not open every day and the regular costume shop staff aren't authorized to open it themselves (I think the owner has to be around); as far as I can tell this is the only magic shop that still exists in central Illinois; not a large selection of magic but they do have books, DVDs, tricks, and supplies; when I visited the gentleman who ran the magic area was very happy to demonstrate several tricks

In the spring of 2014 I took a trip to New York city, where I used to live, and visited these shops:

- Tannen's Magic (New York, NY)
small historic shop with a good selection of books, DVDs, tricks, and supplies; famous for their annual magic camp; micro museum of Houdini memorabilia; frequent lectures

- Fantasma Magic (New York, NY)
like Tannen's this store is a bit hidden since it's on an upper floor in a high-rise building; the space isn't huge but it does have a better than average selection of merchandise and a several display cases that house a very cool collection of Houdini memoribilia

I also took a trip to Baltimore this past summer and visited these shops:

- Denny & Lee Magic Studio (Rosedale, MD)
the most well-stocked shop I've seen so far especially with regard to new, used, and autographed books; great selection of pamphlets/booklets/lecture notes; lots of DVDs, tricks and supplies; very big performance area in the warehouse connected to the shop

- The Magic Warehouse (Owings Mills, MD)
better than average selection of books, tricks, etc.; they have a decent website with lots of products and some good deals but call ahead if you're looking for something specific because not everything is on hand at the store; at least one magic club meets here and there is a nice little performance space in the back

I was in Detroit earlier this month and went to:

- Wunderground Magic Shop (Clawson, MI)
above average shop with a good variety of books (new and used), DVDs, tricks, and supplies; friendly and helpful sales folks; great selection of Ron Bauer booklets/pamphlets/lecture notes since he's a local

If you feel that your local magic store is particularly good, or if you know of an online listing of brick and mortar shops that's especially helpful (and up to date) please post the info here!
Camano
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Here are a few of the magic shops I've visited and my perceptions of them. You may want to know that my perspective is colored by the fact that I'm relatively new to magic, and while it has become a primary hobby interest, the amount of time I have to devote to it is limited.

Misdirections Magic Shop in San Francico, California is located near Golden Gate Park. The owner Joe is a consummate professional. He can demonstrate every trick he sells, and won't try to sell you something you won't be able to use. He spent at least two hours with me showing me routines not just for tricks I purchased from him but for another trick I just happened to have had in my pocket. This is one of the best stocked magic shop I have yet visited and a clear 5 star shop!

Eagle Magic and Joke Store is about a 20-30 minute drive outside of Minneapolis (since about 8 years ago). It was well stocked when I was there about 18 months ago, but the way the owner treats customers makes me hesitant to assume he's still in business. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder that the world doesn't recognize him as a great magician. He will demonstrate only those tricks he has decided someone should purchase, and only once. If you want more of a demonstration, even after purchasing a trick, he'll tell you to sign up for lessons. At the time I visited, he explained that he charged $100 an hour for lessons because that was what it was worth, even though his wife told him he should reduce his price to attract more potential students. Pricing his services is certainly his right; but I think he probably spends a lot more time complaining about how few people are willing to pay him that much than he does giving lessons. Some of those he drives away with his attitude might otherwise have become good customers. In fairness, he performed well the tricks he was willing to do at all, but the overall experience didn't make me feel like visiting again.

Seattle's Market Magic, in the lower level of the Pike's Place Market, Seattle, Washington, has a variety of tricks and memorabilia on display but is usually filled with general tourists passing by; so the shop's focus seems more on serving that market with gag items. I've been in several times but have never seen the attendants doing much more than staying alert to potential shoplifters. I hope to go in there some time when it's actually possible to speak with someone working there and find out if there is more to Seattle Magic than first impressions indicate.

Tannen's is a great New York shop, even more now that Magick came over from Fantasma, but everyone already knows that, so I won't say more here.

Magic Inc, and Ash's Magic Shop in Chicago are both worth a visit, and chiartguy has done a good job describing them above. Just two comments though to add: Don't go to Ash's if you're seeking something specific. With the clutter in the shop, I don't think Mr. Ash could find it even if he had what you are seeking. (Although in fairness, he and his wife were working to organize things somewhat when I last visited a year ago.) I haven't been to Magic, Inc's new location yet, but when I visited last year they were very helpful in demonstrating tricks and helping me decide what was appropriate for my level of experience.


I've been to two different shops that people refer to as the oldest magic shop in the world:

The first is Davenport's, in a dingy underground corner of the arcade at London's Charing Cross tube (subway) station. There is not a lot to see beside DVDs on display, although friends who have been there report that the staff is very helpful if you are trying to find something.

The second is El Rei De La Mŕgia, which describes itself as the oldest still operating magic shop in the world (perhaps, unlike Davenport's, they are still in the original shop location). It is in Barcelona, Spain, in a shop which has an ancient and somewhat "Harry Potter" feel to it. The tiny shop does not have room to put as much on display as some others, but Sara Fernandez Garcia, the lovely young magician who was operating the shop in the absence of the owner when I visited in late 2014, performed all of the tricks I asked her about very professionally. Sara spoke excellent English and was very helpful in explaining several tricks before I bought them. She also brought out additional tricks, not on display, as she gained an understanding of my interests and experience level through our discussion. She also gained my trust early on by steering me away from one trick she said I could buy less expensively elsewhere. (I'm happy to pay a premium to help preserve brick and mortar stores; especially ones that take such a sincere interest in their customers.) I also invariably purchase more at shops willing to provide enough of a hint about how a trick works that I can figure out if I am likely to be able to perform it with the limited time and experience I have. At some point on our magic learning curve, we've all bought a trick that looked great when we saw it performed, only to discover that we'd need several months of practice to even approximate a credible performance with it. El Rei De La Mŕgia is definitely worth a visit if you make it to Barcelona. It also has performances and a magic museum, but I didn't have time on that trip to check them out.
dgcoates
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Quote:
On Jun 20, 2016, Camano wrote:
Here are a few of the magic shops I've visited and my perceptions of them. You may want to know that my perspective is colored by the fact that I'm relatively new to magic, and while it has become a primary hobby interest, the amount of time I have to devote to it is limited.

Misdirections Magic Shop in San Francico, California is located near Golden Gate Park. The owner Joe is a consummate professional. He can demonstrate every trick he sells, and won't try to sell you something you won't be able to use. He spent at least two hours with me showing me routines not just for tricks I purchased from him but for another trick I just happened to have had in my pocket. This is one of the best stocked magic shop I have yet visited and a clear 5 star shop!

Eagle Magic and Joke Store is about a 20-30 minute drive outside of Minneapolis (since about 8 years ago). It was well stocked when I was there about 18 months ago, but the way the owner treats customers makes me hesitant to assume he's still in business. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder that the world doesn't recognize him as a great magician. He will demonstrate only those tricks he has decided someone should purchase, and only once. If you want more of a demonstration, even after purchasing a trick, he'll tell you to sign up for lessons. At the time I visited, he explained that he charged $100 an hour for lessons because that was what it was worth, even though his wife told him he should reduce his price to attract more potential students. Pricing his services is certainly his right; but I think he probably spends a lot more time complaining about how few people are willing to pay him that much than he does giving lessons. Some of those he drives away with his attitude might otherwise have become good customers. In fairness, he performed well the tricks he was willing to do at all, but the overall experience didn't make me feel like visiting again.

Seattle's Market Magic, in the lower level of the Pike's Place Market, Seattle, Washington, has a variety of tricks and memorabilia on display but is usually filled with general tourists passing by; so the shop's focus seems more on serving that market with gag items. I've been in several times but have never seen the attendants doing much more than staying alert to potential shoplifters. I hope to go in there some time when it's actually possible to speak with someone working there and find out if there is more to Seattle Magic than first impressions indicate.

Tannen's is a great New York shop, even more now that Magick came over from Fantasma, but everyone already knows that, so I won't say more here.

Magic Inc, and Ash's Magic Shop in Chicago are both worth a visit, and chiartguy has done a good job describing them above. Just two comments though to add: Don't go to Ash's if you're seeking something specific. With the clutter in the shop, I don't think Mr. Ash could find it even if he had what you are seeking. (Although in fairness, he and his wife were working to organize things somewhat when I last visited a year ago.) I haven't been to Magic, Inc's new location yet, but when I visited last year they were very helpful in demonstrating tricks and helping me decide what was appropriate for my level of experience.


I've been to two different shops that people refer to as the oldest magic shop in the world:

The first is Davenport's, in a dingy underground corner of the arcade at London's Charing Cross tube (subway) station. There is not a lot to see beside DVDs on display, although friends who have been there report that the staff is very helpful if you are trying to find something.

The second is El Rei De La Mŕgia, which describes itself as the oldest still operating magic shop in the world (perhaps, unlike Davenport's, they are still in the original shop location). It is in Barcelona, Spain, in a shop which has an ancient and somewhat "Harry Potter" feel to it. The tiny shop does not have room to put as much on display as some others, but Sara Fernandez Garcia, the lovely young magician who was operating the shop in the absence of the owner when I visited in late 2014, performed all of the tricks I asked her about very professionally. Sara spoke excellent English and was very helpful in explaining several tricks before I bought them. She also brought out additional tricks, not on display, as she gained an understanding of my interests and experience level through our discussion. She also gained my trust early on by steering me away from one trick she said I could buy less expensively elsewhere. (I'm happy to pay a premium to help preserve brick and mortar stores; especially ones that take such a sincere interest in their customers.) I also invariably purchase more at shops willing to provide enough of a hint about how a trick works that I can figure out if I am likely to be able to perform it with the limited time and experience I have. At some point on our magic learning curve, we've all bought a trick that looked great when we saw it performed, only to discover that we'd need several months of practice to even approximate a credible performance with it. El Rei De La Mŕgia is definitely worth a visit if you make it to Barcelona. It also has performances and a magic museum, but I didn't have time on that trip to check them out.
I live in Detroit and absolutely love the Wunderground Magic Shop in Clawson, Michigan. The folks behind the counter range from hobbyists, semi professional to full time professional magicians and mentalists...When Patrick Redford isn't on tour, you can usually find him behind the counter there. The "Dungeons" are really cool and Paul Neilson is a wonderful example of a magic shop owner. I not only refer my friends there, I make dates with my friends and family and take them there. I am old enough to remember Roy Kissell's "Fox Fun and Magic Shop in Detroit and the Wunderground recaptures that magical spell from the days of my youth,
Dennis George Coates
Sophocles
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Any contact Fantasma Magic (NY) recently?

I've emailed them twice and tried to call yesterday but no response.
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