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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Why do you think magic shops don't last long (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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scottthegreat
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I have had 3 magic shops in my area close only after a few years in business. The lastest one lasted 2 years and there closing at the end of August. It bothers my that they don't stay open. It was so nice to vist see the new stuff they got in. Also its great to talk with other magicians ect. But what can you do? I will order online from now on.
Steven Steele
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Hesperia, California USA
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I would think it's simply the fact that there's not enough business. I know a guy who is a pharmacist and has some pretty good magic in a corner of his pharmacy because he loves magic and wants to provide a way for magicians to get some things. However, he has to charge a fair price because he has to pay rent on the building plus utilities and everything else it takes to run a brick and mortar store. Last I heard he was getting rid of the stuff as he was tired of magicians coming in and handling all of the props and books and then telling him they were going to buy it off of the internet because it was cheaper.

Today's generation is all about cheap. The fact that customer service is out the door (don't get me started) doesn't seem to bother them unless something goes wrong. In the end it's the ol' saying, 'You get what you pay for'.
Dr. Delusion
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Eugene, Oregon.
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Here in Eugene we don't currently have a magic shop. The last one closed after being around for about a year. A few years back Chuck Leach had Chazpro going near the University Of Oregon Campus. It did a great deal of business. Chuck and Barbara ended up closing it and moving back to Washington in order to be closer to family and to work on internet business only. From what I could see between the 2 was that Chazpro had a great location with walk by traffic from both the campus and a near by Hospital, the other shop was hard to find and not much walk by happening. Also Chazpro not only sold magic, but also comic books, trading cards, autographed photos and memorabilla from sports stars and actors as well as lots of practical jokes and novelties. Chazpro would also sell a lot of Halloween costumes and things during that time of year as well. The other shop just sold smaller type magic tricks. So, at least in this area, a place will need to sell more than just magic in order to survive.
Bob.
Dennis Michael
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It's a new ERA, Here in the millions of people in the Tri-State Area (PA-NJ-DE) Centered being Philadelphia, I've watched EVERY "Brick and Morter" Magic Shop close, in the past 50 years.

Where do Magicians buy their Magic in Today's Society?

  • 1. Our local Magic Clubs have dealer's tables and they sell their without a fee to the clubs as a bonus to the membership. We usually have at least 3-dealers at each club.
  • 2. Magic Conventions and Conference. Where did you spent most of your funds earmarked for magic purchases?
  • 3. Internet Purchases are the modern day way of doing business.

What is lost is the discussions within the shop and the experience of pros like Denny Haney from Denny & Lees.

In the Philadelphia Area, we have Bob Little's Super Sunday twice a year which is well attended! http://www.BobLittlesSuperSunday.com

In September there is "Magician Alliance of Eastern States" http://www.maesonline.org

The SAM and IBM Conventions do very well for the dealers and so does KIDabra International

Look at other discount houses in the corporate world, many are folding because the internet undercuts them too!

We can't change society and the way they do business, the magic dealers must change to accommodate society buying decisions.

They might not like it, however, they must recognize it and meet it's demands to survive.
Dennis Michael
jackturk
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Dennis is so right on with his analysis.

I grew up near Colon, MI and visited Abbott's many times over the years. In my opinion, that little factory represents what a "magic shop" should be.

How they have adapted to the internet age, I have no idea. I really, really wish them well. One thing that I'm sure helps maintain Abbott's profile is their annual Get-Together -- which changes their position from just a store to a key player in
the industry.

The challenge all magic shops face is this: there just aren't that many magicians. Period.

And with a limited niche market, you have to work all that much harder to reach them, woo them, and build ongoing relationships them.

I've never been to Hank Lee's shop, but I'll say this for Hank, he does an absolutely great job of blending brick and mortar with an internet presence. I get emails from Hand regularly, and they're always interesting, personable, and oft-times contain some kind of a deal.

This is exactly what a friend of mine in the restaurant business does with his customers. Sends them regular notes, newsletters, coupons -- all with a friendly,
personal touch.

Business is business is business and marketing is marketing is marketing.

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magicofCurtis
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Quote:
On 2008-08-05 23:27, scottthegreat wrote:
.It was so nice to vist see the new stuff they got in. Also its great to talk with other magicians....


This is why they do not last... Magician go to talk and see the new stuff and buy the items from somewhere else that is CHEAPER!
leapinglizards
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I think, for a brick and mortar shop to exist today it needs to combine all of the following to remain viable:

Must be well stocked and have internet capabilities... Offer an in store kiosk to order things not on the shelf and offer free shipping when possible for out of stock items. A "Membership" fee may offset this expense.

Must have one or two rooms off to the side, One for parties, one for meetings.

Party room will be marketed for birthday parties and partner with one or more cake/food providers where moms and dads can pay one fee and have party, food, magic, clowns, face paint whatever all in one place and with one phone call and one price.

Meeting room along similar lines. Teach "magic for salesmen" classes to bring in new blood. Teach summer magic camps and after school magic programs for same reason. Do face painting classes for moms (sell makeup kits) etc etc... also, offer the meeting space to the local magic clubs. Get the locals in there.

If you have the space, costume rental is the other sensible synergistic item, also balloon arches and deliveries.

If possible, get a coffee house next door or nereby to offer open mic magic nights.... Ok..

Also, reasonable rent, decent location with parking and such....

Now, of course this is a fantasy but I think it pinpoints the challenge with any business now adays. You have to build a community and a following. Many of the brick and mortar magic shops try to survive on selling pro-quality magic to magicians alone, and, alas- that has never been the bread and butter of the magic shop. It's the new kid coming in and buying their first Svengali deck, hot rod etc.... The advanced hobbyist and pro's become icing on the cake and buy the bigger ticket items- but, ya have to have the bread and butter sales every day.

One of the few B and M shops I know of that "made it" did so by A- being in a tourist area. B- hiring mainly on commission. C- packaging and selling a lot of their own versions of public domain items, and creating and replicating their own instruction videos (Before DVD era) which are an easy sell and high profit item for the new comers. Most importantly, they started a magic club. Everyone who bought, from all over the world, was a member and got mailings.... and from there it grew. It is a hard formula to find though.
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RobertBloor
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My though - they're typically run by magicians.
"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,"
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Chad C.
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Quote:
On 2008-08-06 15:51, RobertBloor wrote:
My though - they're typically run by magicians.


LOL!
Jay Mahon
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Ugh... Why are they closing? The owners of these shops don't usually have a full magicians life planned out.
What does that mean?
These shop owners need to have enough product to introduce the new customer to magic and slowly guide them down a fruitful path.
I think of my local shop which is full of books! They have Magic and a handful of novelty joke stuff. People initially come in out of curiosity, then they leave with 1 or 2 great tricks.
They return and are sold on something else. This is a slow progression. Once they have visited a number of times then dvds and books come into play. This is where the serious magicians are seperated from the dabblers.
The dabblers are then able to come and buy what they need and the serious magicians have all the books and more advanced stuff.

Knowing the buying cycle of magicians can greatly increase your chances and improve the level of magic in your area!

This of course must be combined with some sort of online storefront but the same rules apply.
Also you need to be a good person and hopefully a good magician. There are a lot of queer folk in magic and shop owners get to deal with so many! So, lots of patience, and the ability to be a mentor.

If you can convert new customers to life long hobbyists, then you are set!

Jay
iwillfoolu
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I have seen a few magic shops come and go. I worked in one for a while (haven't we all). Here are my opinions.

The owner is the one who really knows the business. (S)he should be around more at many shops. Taking on magic shows means not being around for the shop.

Some (not all so no flames) of the people that work at these shops either a)have no clue about anything b)have no clue about magic c)don't care if they sell anything or d)some combination thereof.

Also most of the shops I have seen have been in the mall. They had to sell other products (jokes, games, gags and novelties) to keep afloat or they give classes to supplemement income.

Most of the shops don't last a year. They sell a bunch of Dlites and IT to a bunch of unsuspecting public. People get ticked that they got ripped off and never buy from the shop again.

Some owners don't realize that it's a magic SHOP. You have to have good salespeople that know the products they sell. As posted above, it is very important to start people at the beginning. A simple, reliable trick to start them off. Always leave them wanting more. Long term customers are your goal.

It takes 10 years before the average business turns a profit. Some people expect to open the doors and get flooded with customers. The employees have to build that base.

Most shops also charge a premium for the consumables. Balloons, hat tears, etc will sell themselves, but not for 50% more than online.

I'm not saying it can't be done, because there are quite a few chain magic shops that have been successful. Proper planning prevents poor performance. Hire good employees and do the right thing.

Lastly, many shops carry lots of big stock on the shelves ($$$) of items they never sell. Better to carry lots of items that do sell. You should never run out of Svengalis or Scotch & Sodas. Quick and simple tricks. Turnover is the key. Pitch everybody.
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David Fletcher
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Regarding stores in Philadelphia - Jack Chanin's closed because he passed away. Kanter's closed because Lee Grey passed away. They were both in downtown Philly. That whole area has changed. There was one that was in an upstairs location that closed - I was never in that one. Irv Furman's shop closed because Irv passed away. Downtown Philly isn't what it used to be. I hope it, someday, returns to it's upscale self, not the current discount shop area that it is.

I was in Boston a couple of years ago and went to Hank Lee's shop. One salesperson and me. His offices and warehouse is in a different town. The clerk/magician told me that online and catalog sales is the business. I can only guess that the shop is open because it's been there for so long and Hank is such an established name as a magic dealer.

Stopped in at Denny and Lee's a few years back when I worked a sales meeting in DC. It is what a magic shop should be. And, of course, it's Denny.
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Dynamike
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It's too many online magic shops showing up. Many do not have a building. They receive the props at their house for wholesale price making a profit as they send it the customer at regular price.
magic4u02
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Dennis and jack are exactly right. I think he problem lies in the fact that as society changes, so must the way magic shops do business. The ones who are doing well are the nes who are opperating under multiple streams of income. Simply stated I mean they are the ones who are nmot relying solely on traffic into the shop. They are the ones who realize they need to be at conventions. They also set up and run an online internet store where people can purchase 24/7. They are the ones having dealer's tables at magic meetings and hosting their own conventions.

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johnobryant
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Everything has gone e-commerce. It's 2008.

-john
Christopher Starr
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The thing about magic shops is that most of the successful ones never stayed open off of magic trick sales alone. Most of the successful ones also had a very good costume shop, and would do a huge business during the Halloween season. Still others offered other items for sale, to appeal to a broader consumer.

It is sad, because my fondest memories are of meeting other magicians at the local magic shop on a Saturday afternoon. The internet generation really doesn't have that social opportunity.

...and by the way, I believe that even the venerable Hank Lee is shutting his retail doors, moving the operation to a mail order business only.
mysto59
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Years ago I used to go to Fabjance Magic shop in Bethalto Illinois. John Fabjance was the owner. He was great guy and a really fine magician. I learned a lot from him just hanging out in his shop watching him perform for his customers. He "schooled" me on many things. That was the only "brick and mortor" magic shop in the area but now it is long gone. I really miss going there.
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scottthegreat
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I'm going to miss the one in my area. I really don't think there will ever be one around again. that's because online sales. Not a lot of traffic goes in a magic store. I seen a lot of people go to the one by my house. Ask about dlites ect and than go find it on ebay or on line cheaper. The shop near me never carried anything great. Basic tarbell books, a few ellusionist dvds penguin magic the stuff that's kids wanted. Also the owner gave lessons. didn't charge much. But the lessons were kind of boring and than he stoped. He said it was like babysitting kids. One week it was the aronson stack the next a basic coin vanish. Plus the aronson stck shouldn't be a 1st lesson for a beginer. I hope someday theres another one in my area. The closest one is about 1 1/2 away. dimond magic in peabody ma. I never been. I will check them out someday
threecardmonte
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After working in a magic shop for ten years I have come to the conclusion that most magicians don't like to spend money. But people interested in magic do. It was very easy to sell to the father and son who juat had a magician come to their school, and he'd like to know more. (we've all been there)

Magicians on the other hand just like to hang out and talk. They're pretty much just loiterers. There is a great magic shop called Midwest Magic just outside Chicago. Every saturday you can find a couple dozen guys just hanging out at the counter. (I swear I am the only person who ever buys anything.) I wish them the best of luck because it really is a fantastic shop.

The shop I used to work at started as a magic shop, but the owners found out a magic shop can't survive on it's own. So they added party goods, costumes, make-up, novelty gifts, greeting cards, balloons, etc. They've now been in business 26 years. But the magic doesn't make money for them. They rely on a great halloween to make money.
millste
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Everyone's reasons and ideas are great. I personally would never want to own or work in a magic shop. Magicians are about as unloyal as they come.

Josh
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