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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Brick & Mortar Magic Shops, an endangered species? (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Marshall Thornside
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I know what you mean.

Especially the ones that super good. But, you know its all about moving with
the times and technology.

if you can't do that, then you might find your business running to the ground faster
now than before.
you will remember my name

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Review King
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I don't like walking into a place of business and have someone try to sell me what they think I need. And then get annoyed when I'm not interested. They have no idea what good sales techniques are. They can't read a customer.

The shops I've gone into are not the shops I went to in the 60's, 70's and 80's. They are now run by people that take no interest in magic other than selling the newest effect. When you aren't interested in the "hot" item they are trying to get you to take, they get turned off, like a cheap used car salesman.

Are there still some shops that are like those in the old days? Maybe. None I've seen the last 5 years.

You know why people don't like me saying this? Because they are nostalgic and miss the old days and know that these shops are not coming back. The times they are a chang'in.

I'm glad for the internet and the competitive prices.
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

..........John Greenleaf Whittier
mormonyoyoman
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I'm very lucky when I'm in Indiana, in having FunTyme Magic in Nashville, Indiana. (A very tiny little town, with a mini-Grand Ole Opera. I kid you not.) Ed has managed to make FunTyme a real player, even with a limited customer base, by opening an internet version of the shop. But the real treat is still going into the shop and listening to him, then walking out with whatever he highly recommends.

And that may be the only way for brick & mortar shops to stay open.


*jeep!
--Chet (Who has yet to find a magic shop retailer who was rude.)
#ShareGoodness #ldsconf
Bill Palmer
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Chris:

Magic shop owners aren't psychic. I have found that if I go into a shop where I am not known, and there are a lot of them, if I approach the counterman, who is normally the shop owner, and tell him what I am looking for, that cuts through all of the unnecessary BS.

Some of the people I have met this way have turned into real friends -- Barry Schorr of Presto Magic, Alan Alan, the late Ron McMillan, Betty Davenport. Some of the shops are gone now. And some have suffered from the loss of their owners -- Vienna Magic is no longer the really outstanding shop it once was. And Klingl has dwindled to a shadow of its former self. But Tam Shepherd's is still an excellent place to go.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Review King
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Cheap salespeople don't deserve courtesy. They have their objective: SELL NO MATTER WHAT! If I told this story about a used car salesmen, everyone would agree with me. But because it deals with their nostalgia about magic shops, they get all defensive.

I think it's fun to mess with salesmen. I go into Nordstrom's dept. store, I'll have a polite salesperson ask if they can help me. If I say no thanks I'm just browsing-THAT'S IT! They politely say "If there is anything I can help you with, please let me know". That's why they get my business.

As far as the Magic Shop I went to the other day. I hadn't been to it in a few years. The last time I got shown that horrible effect virtual magician, or something. You know, gimmicked deck and a computer tells them the card they 'chose". The same guy as the other day showed it to me. He said, "As soon as I got this in, I ordered 10 more. He showed it to me and I said "That's incredible. I wouldn't have room to carry it myself, but I'll let my friends know you carry it."

Know what he did? Made a sour face and stopped talking to me. So, the other day it was fun to mess with him.
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

..........John Greenleaf Whittier
Bill Palmer
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So you do the logical thing, and judge ALL bricks and mortar shops by one jerk.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Review King
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Quote:
On 2005-06-18 01:16, Bill Palmer wrote:
So you do the logical thing, and judge ALL bricks and mortar shops by one jerk.


Bill, why do you even care? If the shops are as great as you say they are, then they will be here forever. But, they are drying up. Some major cities that used to have several shops, have none. Why is that? The Internet? Doubtful. If that were the case, than other retail shops would do the same.

It's because the folks that used to run them, that really cared about magic, are gone. Retired, deceased. Are there some good ones left? Probably. Not many. If they are, than maybe they know how to keep a customer base. They know that having cheap salesmen that only care about the quick buck is not the way to go.

Who cares what I think about brick and mortar magic shops. Unless of course it's not what I'm saying is going to close them, but what I'm saying is the truth about the majority of them.
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

..........John Greenleaf Whittier
Marshall Thornside
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Probably when Chris walks into the shop with an arrogant attitude that causes people to annoy him by selling him stuff he doesn't want.


We care (Bill and me an others) because we know what Brick & Mortar's give that
online stores can not.

If you walked into a real store where real people really care for what your
needs are, you would find out there are people there who do know more
than you.
you will remember my name

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Review King
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I walk in as a customer. When they don't respect my wishes that I'm browsing, then they get the treatment.

Hey, I've been in an actual magic store 3 times in the last 6 years. The ones going under are doing it to themselves as I have nothing to do with them.
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

..........John Greenleaf Whittier
Marshall Thornside
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And then I suppose you always believe that these stores should not be around for the
younger children to learn about magic. Or for people to talk about their passion.

I never said you had anything to do with them going out of business. But you may carry yourself in there like you should be respected or maybe you want to pick a fight with the person behind the counter.

Who says I have to respect you when I see you walk into a magic shop?

You are a nobody except someone who is looking for something or might need help.

I don't know who you are.

So if the tables were turned and you were behind the counter and I was the customer, I expect you to kiss my ***. Because if you don't respect my wishes when I'm browsing, then you get the same treatment.
you will remember my name

World's Youngest Illusionista
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Marshall Thornside
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Another reason I love brick & mortar stores is that when you are looking for something specifically you can browse and try different things. And if it doesn't work for you when you get home, you can go back and return it and try something else.

As you go to these stores, the people get to know you and your needs and are willing
to get whatever you want at the lowest possible cost. I couldn't even imagine returning stuff via UPS/FedEx all the time, the shipping costs would be outrageous and the customer service wouldn't know your needs personally. Only the computer. Plus I hate waiting retuning expensive items in the mail.

Now you go to the store and its there and you get instead credit and then its there safely.
you will remember my name

World's Youngest Illusionista
7th greatest pianist in the world
Go Red For Women and Stroke Ambassador
www.mai-ling.net
Bill Palmer
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MagicChris wrote:
Quote:
Hey, I've been in an actual magic store 3 times in the last 6 years. The ones going under are doing it to themselves as I have nothing to do with them.


And so you really have nothing to do with them at all. And, to quote Martha Stewart, that's a good thing.

Your judgment of all bricks and mortar shops by the actions of this one shop owner are as unfair as it would be if I judged all members of any group of people by the actions of one person.

But it is human nature to behave that way.

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I think it bears repeating. I was working a PR gig for the Greater Houston Convention a Visitors Bureau, strolling, doing magic and playing the banjo. When I approached a table, I would give them a choice of banjo music or magic. They ALWAYS wanted to hear the banjo. After I had played for them, I would ask them why they wanted to hear the banjo and not see the magic. In every case, and there were several of them, it was because some jerk had done something to them that offended or injured them in some way.

In one case, it was a fellow who had done ring flight and lost their ring. He did not reimburse them. It took a lot of persuading, but I not only did some magic for them, but I wound up performing my version of ring flight. They not only got their ring back -- they enjoyed it. So I cleaned up after a bad magician.

Bad bricks and mortar shops should and will close. But the good ones, and there are plenty of them, should not be lumped into the same category. Nor should they close.

But let's put the shoe on the other foot. You, a total stranger, walk into a shop. The salesman, who doesn't realize you want your posterior kissed, asks what brings you into the shop. So you go over to where the expensive DVDs are and start looking through them. In an effort to keep his inventory from walking out the door he engages you in conversation. That may be the way it looked to him, anyway.

Now, I don't honestly believe that you would pinch a DVD. But maybe he did. Who knows. You won't hurt his sales. The only thing that will put him out of business is his lack of technique.

Let's take a look at a contrasting shop. International Magic Studio -- Ron McMillan's old shop -- was a terriffic place to visit. If you walked in off the street, and he didn't know who you were, he would greet you and ask if there was anything he could do for you. He would introduce himself. If he found out you were a "worker," he would get his son to watch the shop while he took you to the big room where all of the really good stuff was. I hope to visit his son when I go over for the Centenary. I have fond memories of that shop.

And there are others like that here in the States, as well. They are worth seeking out.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Ed Hutchison
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Chris: you have observed bad sales practices in some magic shops, then noticed a decline in the number of brick and mortar shops, and decided that the poor service has brought about the decline.

This is reminiscent of the guy who danced around a totem pole, noticed a subsequent rain, and decided that his dance caused the rain.

I have never danced but I have often gotten wet, so I have determined that the rain must fall on all of us. There must be something other than totem-pole-dancing that causes it to rain.

In the same way, I think if you ponder the problem for a moment you'll find many reasons for the decline of brick and mortar magic shops. Some no doubt have failed because of the poor service you have cited. I'd suspect, though, that most failures have had other causes.

In fact, there are many of us who make a great effort to give our business to those who sell through traditional magic shops. We do so because we believe them to be an institution worth preserving. In my own case, I live more than 200 miles from a "real" magic shop, yet, in the past three months I have visited numerous dealers at two different conventions and have been in another seven shops during my travels.

To be honest, not all of these shops had items that interested me, so, naturally, not all these visits produced a memorable magical experience. But, with just one exception, I still encountered pleasant and helpful sales people. The lone exception was at a shop that was in the process of phasing out their line of magic and the clerk, while pleasant enough, quickly admitted that he usually sold costumes and was not really knowledgeable about magic.

I'm sorry that Chris has had other experiences, but, in the more than 30 years that I have been hanging around magic shops, I have met some very nice people. I might say, too, that while I have known some wealthy people who ran magic shops, I have never known anyone who got rich operating one. They must do it from a love of our art and I, for one, am appreciative of their efforts.
Edward Hutchison

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Home Page: http://www.ERHutchison.com
Review King
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Ed, thanks for those great thoughts. I'm glad at least one person offered good insight.

Here’s what I keep seeing-some folks think the customer has something to prove and that the owners/sales force doesn’t have to be courteous and earn business.

Bill, you said “who doesn't realize you want your posterior kissed”
I don’t want that. I want to walk in, be greeted in a friendly manner and helped if I want it.

Businesses like magic shops should bend over backwards to attract and keep customers.

A magic shop doesn’t offer discount prices. So, how can they attract customers and not go under like they do? By treating customers they way businesses used to do in the 50’s and 60’s.
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

..........John Greenleaf Whittier
Bill Palmer
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Chris:

If you re-read all my posts, you will find that I do agree with you more than I disagree with you. I don't know whether they need to "bend over backwards" to attract business, but they do need to at least be friendly.

Most of the magic shops I trade with are friendly. The ones that aren't, or the ones that put me off, I don't go back to. But I don't judge the good ones by the bad ones.

A friend of mine once said, "You cannot judge an entire group of people by the actions of one member of that group.... The magic number is three."

Now for a reality check. Why are magic shops in business? To make money. Are you with me so far? They aren't there to deliver a service to magicians. They aren't there to be a repository of all the DVDs that have been produced. They aren't there to babysit someones juvenile delinquents. The question is: "How can a magic shop make the most money?"

Some think that by trying a hard sell every time a person comes into a store, they will maximize their income. Your experience and mine show that this really won't work. The ones that are successful do it by being friendly, demonstrating tricks well, having a reasonable price, teaching, stocking things the local magicians need and performing some other services for the magic community. We have one really good magic shop in Houston. That's Frankel's Costume Company. They have been in business for at least 40 years that I know of. And they have always had a magic counter. When they moved to their present location, the set aside a very large area for a magic shop, so that it could stay functional during the Halloween season when other costume shops close their magic counters. If I go in at any time, I can purchase any basic gimmick I need, the latest DVDs, the classic books and some other things I might not find in other shops. They have some vintage magic, as well. The fellow who works behind the counter is Scott Hollingsworth. He knows magic. And he knows how to sell it. They have several magicians who come in once a week, spend their "allowance" and visit. That's a good shop. They also provide lessons for beginners, as well as a place for our SYM chapter to meet.

Granted, the costume shop actually provides support for the magic counter. But the owner loves magic and isn't likely to close the counter.

US Toy Magic in Leawood, Kansas is another place that has a lot of great stuff. I'm always treated well there. I know Phil and Andrew, and I know that they aren't going to sell me anything I don't need.

So here's the decision you have to make. Do you just want a discount? Then buy from your favorite price-cutter. But don't expect your local magic shop to help you learn how to do the stuff you buy over the internet. And don't expect some box stuffer who works for an internet magic company to tell you why you are having trouble with your latest acquisition. They probably don't know.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Tony Curtis
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Bill Palmer wrote:
Quote:
Let's take a look at a contrasting shop. International Magic Studio -- Ron McMillan's old shop -- was a terriffic place to visit. If you walked in off the street, and he didn't know who you were, he would greet you and ask if there was anything he could do for you. He would introduce himself. If he found out you were a "worker," he would get his son to watch the shop while he took you to the big room where all of the really good stuff was. I hope to visit his son when I go over for the Centenary. I have fond memories of that shop.

Bill things have changed there since your last visit. The studio with the big stuff has now closed, only the shop remains.
Review King
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Quote:
On 2005-06-18 20:38, Bill Palmer wrote:
Chris:

If you re-read all my posts, you will find that I do agree with you more than I disagree with you. I don't know whether they need to "bend over backwards" to attract business, but they do need to at least be friendly.

Most of the magic shops I trade with are friendly. The ones that aren't, or the ones that put me off, I don't go back to. But I don't judge the good ones by the bad ones.

A friend of mine once said, "You cannot judge an entire group of people by the actions of one member of that group.... The magic number is three."

Now for a reality check. Why are magic shops in business? To make money. Are you with me so far? They aren't there to deliver a service to magicians. They aren't there to be a repository of all the DVDs that have been produced. They aren't there to babysit someones juvenile delinquents. The question is: "How can a magic shop make the most money?"

Some think that by trying a hard sell every time a person comes into a store, they will maximize their income. Your experience and mine show that this really won't work. The ones that are successful do it by being friendly, demonstrating tricks well, having a reasonable price, teaching, stocking things the local magicians need and performing some other services for the magic community. We have one really good magic shop in Houston. That's Frankel's Costume Company. They have been in business for at least 40 years that I know of. And they have always had a magic counter. When they moved to their present location, the set aside a very large area for a magic shop, so that it could stay functional during the Halloween season when other costume shops close their magic counters. If I go in at any time, I can purchase any basic gimmick I need, the latest DVDs, the classic books and some other things I might not find in other shops. They have some vintage magic, as well. The fellow who works behind the counter is Scott Hollingsworth. He knows magic. And he knows how to sell it. They have several magicians who come in once a week, spend their "allowance" and visit. That's a good shop. They also provide lessons for beginners, as well as a place for our SYM chapter to meet.

Granted, the costume shop actually provides support for the magic counter. But the owner loves magic and isn't likely to close the counter.

US Toy Magic in Leawood, Kansas is another place that has a lot of great stuff. I'm always treated well there. I know Phil and Andrew, and I know that they aren't going to sell me anything I don't need.

So here's the decision you have to make. Do you just want a discount? Then buy from your favorite price-cutter. But don't expect your local magic shop to help you learn how to do the stuff you buy over the internet. And don't expect some box stuffer who works for an internet magic company to tell you why you are having trouble with your latest acquisition. They probably don't know.


This thread was a good lively debate. For me, I realized after re-reading everyones input that I was wrong in saying all shops should close. That was pretty childish and was born from a dislike of being treated like a “mark” by a salesmen. So, I threw out the remark they should all close. If someone owned a shop, or once owned, or had friends that owned, they’d rightly be upset. I apologize to anyone that may have offended.

Bill,
My point is, there is nothing wrong with bending over backwards. Did they kiss butt? Well, they and I didn’t feel that way. We treated those patrons like family (except for the bill at the end. Smile

I think Magic Shops that combined that philosophy would fare better. They wouldn’t have to discount items, but instead offer classes and other services that an internet shop never could. They need to identify what they are missing and fill those gaps.

God bless the Café and all the folks that make it special!!!

Chris
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

..........John Greenleaf Whittier
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2005-06-18 21:08, Tony Curtis wrote:
Bill Palmer wrote:
Quote:
Let's take a look at a contrasting shop. International Magic Studio -- Ron McMillan's old shop -- was a terriffic place to visit. If you walked in off the street, and he didn't know who you were, he would greet you and ask if there was anything he could do for you. He would introduce himself. If he found out you were a "worker," he would get his son to watch the shop while he took you to the big room where all of the really good stuff was. I hope to visit his son when I go over for the Centenary. I have fond memories of that shop.

Bill things have changed there since your last visit. The studio with the big stuff has now closed, only the shop remains.


I had a feeling that would happen when Ron passed away. I know he had to have someone on duty in the shop when he took visitors down to the studio.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Tony Curtis
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Being a new kid on the block (well 52 really) I did not expect so much response to my topic so thank you all.
Bill Palmer
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Tony:

You may be a new kid on this block, but you have been around a lot of other blocks before.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
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