Brick and Mortar Magic Shops
So, What Makes for a Good Magic Shop?
Believe it or not, the physical atmosphere is not one of my criteria for choosing a magic shop to frequent. When I owned a magic shop in the late 70s and early 80s, my family decorated it in a classier style.
We had beautifully wood-stained display cabinets, expensive carpeting, M.C. Escher metallic wallpaper, etc.
The place was classy. It made me, and many other magicians, feel accomplished. Here was a place where magicians ruled ... and everyone felt welcome, and that they were frequenting somewhere special.
On the other hand, I delight in pawing through a magic shop crammed with secretive envelopes and boxes, strewn about.
The messier and dustier, the better.
It makes me feel that I might discover a long-lost magical treasure.
Both types of store can provide a good magic-shop experience.
So what are my criteria?
I look for either a shop that is filled with high-quality, non-distributed magic, or I try to find a store with good people behind the counter.
Let's look at both in more detail:
Why Non-Distributed Magic?
It's certainly OK to own magic sold through a large distributor, like Murphy's. (Murphy's is arguably the largest magic distributor in the United States.) Staples, like thumb tips, silks, etc. are great items to buy. And some of the DVDs on magic are primarily made available through companies like Murphy's.
If you want to be a quality magician, then you have to search for higher quality magic.
Many of the very best magic creators and writers have already moved away from using a large-scale distributor. They are selling to magic shops on their own.
Note: By avoiding going through a distributor, the creator keeps more of the profit. This allows for smaller quantities sold to be as profitable, and/or better prices. And you want to buy magic and magic books that are more exclusive, right?
I predict that more and more creative forces in magic will move away from using large-scale distributors. We'll see.
For now, knowing that the magic shop went above and beyond by searching out quality magic from different channels says something.
Kudos to those magic shops that don't just accept the standard set of what's sent to them by the distributor. It takes work to find quality magic for us ... and we appreciate it ... and you.
The Magician Behind the Counter
Unfortunately, sometimes owners of magic shops don't themselves demonstrate magic. Also unfortunate is when magic shops hire a young enthusiast who can't demonstrate the effects with any facility.
On the flip side, there are some real gems behind those magic shop counters. Some pretty skilled guys make a living, or at least put in a few hours, selling in the magic shop.
The ideal magic demonstrator does exist.
He or she will make you feel important, listen to your magic needs, demonstrate the trick you are interested in buying (or a trick from the book or DVD), and be more interested in you than in the other locals hanging out.
A Great Magic Shop
Either a selection of quality magic or a knowledgeable magic shop worker is a must for me. I can have a great time in a store with no selection, if the magician present shares magic with me, and vice versa.
I also appreciate stores with great selections of magic tricks that you can't find on the distribution circuit.
When I get both criteria met, it's a definite bonus. A valuable experience.
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