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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Step right up! » » The Fire Wallet and the 3-card Monte (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Jon-O the Great
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A guy came by my booth today. Had “The Magic Guys” printed on his shirt. We talked for a short time. It seems 3 guys were a couple of aisles over, selling magic trix. The major thing they were selling was the “Fire Wallet”.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a real leather wallet with a mechanism inside. When you open the wallet, flames jump out. Close it, open it again, the flames are gone and no trace of any burns or the mechanism. I won’t go into how it works but in researching it, I found not only many places selling it, but several You Tube performers, showing everything about it.

My purpose in mentioning it is that when you bought the wallet for $20, you got the “floating card” and your choice of one of several other items he was selling, free. The other items included a 3-chard monte, cups and balls, a stripper deck and a Svengali deck.

Frankly, the group wasn’t doing very well because the main guy, (probably early 20s) who said he did magic shows at schools, b-day parties, etc., talked so fast and did the tricks so fast, even I couldn’t understand many of his words or the tricks. But he said he made good money doing the shows.

He was selling most of his tricks, including the Svengali deck for $5. When I tried to explain the logic behind selling at least the Svengali deck for $10, his eyes kinda glazed over and we each lost interest in the other.

I did see him do the 3-card Monte. Truly a neat trick and he actually did it well. He stressed that he was only showing it to the kids as a fun trick and not for money. He started with 2 blue face cards and 1 red face card. He went thru 2-3 tricks with the cards, then wound up by turning over the 2 blue cards and saying to the kid, “Ok, of course, we’re only joking, but if asked you to tell me the color of the card I have left—if you were right, I’d have to give you $14. But if YOU were WRONG, YOU’d have to give ME $14. What color is that last card?”

Of course the kid said “Red” but when he turned the card over, on it was printed, in big letters, ”YOU OWE ME $14!! Neat trick. The dad bought the wallet and the kid took the 3-card Monte and the floating card for the free stuff.

Frankly, I think attempting to use the 3-card as the main sale item, as we do the Svengali deck wouldn’t work. But using it as the “kicker” as we do the 2-card Monte, might work well. No idea what it costs nor where to get it but I’m sure it’s cheap—after all, only 3 cards.

I can tell you “The Magic Guys” will probably not come back again to that show. The main guy said they usually work flea markets but wanted to try the gun show. A table cost $65.

They didn’t even net expenses.

Jon
DonDriver
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The 3 card monte they were "giving away" sounds like color monte by Emerson and West.Its not an easy effect for a kid to do.(sleight-of-hand effect)

I don't think I would want to pitch the fire wallet.Its a good effect for magicians but not a good pitch item.Just my two cents.

Thanks for the info Jon.

Don
LeoH
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I don't think pitching any fire effect to kids is too smart. Most magic shops only sell fire effect to people over 18 because of liability issues.

LeoH
Jon-O the Great
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In some of the You Tube demos, they said they would only sell the wallet to adults. And 'THEORETICALLY' were gonna check ID to be sure they were over 21. (I can hardly wait to DO that!) The guy did sell the wallet to the adult but the kid got the 'free' stuff.

When he gave them the 'floating card' he also gave them a spool with what seemed to be a LOT of IT. In fact, the guy seemed to spend almost as much time explaining the tricks as he did DOING the tricks. Probably one reason that group didn't do so well, moneywise. I'll guarantee I SOLD more Svengali cards at $10 than they GAVE away. (They got their cards from Robbins, so they were exactly the same cards as mine, in the same box.)

In fact, it seemed that the main guy liked DOING the tricks more than he liked to sell.

Jon
visionquest
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This sounds a little bit like Will Roya's pitch structure although as far as I am aware he doesn't get involved with fire wallets. I wonder if he knows anything about this?
Jon-O the Great
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I found the wallets. $11.25, $10ea. 12 or more. That means with the "free" stuff, he had probably $12-$13 in the deal. MUCH more than I want to spend. Besides, I can sell 2 decks of cards for $20 and have LOTS less than that in the deal. So I think I'll let those guys sell their wallets and I'll stick to cards. Very impressive show, tho.

As Don says, I'm just a pitchman, not a magician!

Jon

P.S. By the way NONE of the "magicians" had heard of the Magic Café!!
sethb
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As Don has said many times before, there is a big difference between a pitchman and a magician. While a Svengali pitchman does do magic tricks and must be entertaining, the entire pitch presentation is much different than a "magic show." A pitchman needs to attract and hold his own audience, and then needs to "sell" the product so that the audience buys it. The magic show audience has already paid for their tickets, and simply needs to be entertained.

These guys obviously did not get that distinction, nor did they care. They were giving away the good pitch stuff, and trying to sell something that's not really a pitch item. And I agree, besides being way to expensive for a pitch item, a fire wallet is a TERRIBLE idea. Most places will not even let you have an open flame because of the fire codes, let alone sell something like that. When I did street fairs and festivals, I always told the sponsors that I only sold cards, coins, balls and such -- nothing sharp, no fire, nothing dangerous. That usually helped to clinch the spot if I hadn't worked it before and if they had never had a "magician" before. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
DonDriver
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I have a gut feeling these guys are making ther own fire wallets and think is better than sliced bread.They couldn't buy them wholesale and sell them for $20 with the free kickers.My guess is also they are buying the kickers from a dollar tree.

Why is it only magicians come up with lame ideas for items to pitch.Once at the flea market in Vegas some guy was pitching the coin trick scotch and soda for $40.Oblivious he didn't make them himself.I don't think he sold one all week end...oh and I never saw him back again.

Don
WillRoya
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My "standard" magic pitch is Svengali deck ($10), another trick (usally a thumb tip, $10) and Float This! DVD with "gimmick" $20 or package deal - everything for $25. I have started selling d lites as an add on (sometimes) and keep a small stock of other DVDs and tricks for rehash items (hidden) to sell to return customers, vendors, etc.

I just got home from the Miami fair and also did the Florida state fair earlier this year and had at least a dozen people at each fair ask about the fire wallet. They sell it at the amusement park magic shops. Next year I will have them, I can get good ones for under $10 and sell for $30 - $40 each.

I would not normally sell an item with such small mark up % but people are ready to buy if I have them and I won't really need to pitch it.

I'll be at the Clark County fair in Logandale, NV (45 minutes north of Las Vegas) next weekend, if anyone wants to come by and say hi. About as close as a hometown fair as I will get. Not a busy fair but close to home and a good place to try new items and pitches.

PS on a side note: I have heard magicians getting away with fire effects by explaining that it is not real fire but "magic" fire.
LeoH
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If I tried the "magic fire" bit with the fire marshals around here and I would be explaining the difference to a judge.
Kim
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I agree with Don,
The three card monte trick does sound like Emerson and West's.
Jon-O the Great
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That guy demos sooooo fast. I usually try to speak and demo slowly so the prospect feels HE can do the tricks, not whiz thru 'em so they think I'm the only one who can do 'em. Maybe I'm wrong. Smile I NEVER sold 300 decks a day.

And yes, the 3-card monte appears to be Emerson & West.

Jon
visionquest
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There is more than one way to skin a cat. Some of the best workers work slow and some work fast. Some work quiet and some work loud. Some draw very small crowds and some draw massive crowds. Some are terribly polite and some are obnoxious and rude. Some fumble about with the cards and can hardly do the tricks and some are very dextrous. They all take good money. There are no rules except persistence, determination and most of all stamina. All that matters is the amount of money that is taken in at the end of the day. THAT is the only way you can grade a pitchman.
LeoH
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Jolly Roger is a very popular children's entertainer, too. We have to remember that the video is him working a trade show to draw a crowd to the sponsor's booth and not pitching to sell the decks. His real pitch to sell the deck is probably a little different.

LeoH
LeoH
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Don is right, the 3 card Monte trick does sound like Emerson and West "Color Monte". D. Robbins wholesales them at around $3.50. That is too rich for me to use these as a "kicker", plus the trick does take a lot of practice to get it down.

LeoH
visionquest
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Leo. From what I understand he no longer pitches Svengali decks and has not done for so years. However, I understand from someone who worked with him that the pitch was virtually identical to what he did on the video except that the table was higher. The only real difference was that he asked for the money and did the standard explanation of getting the people to try the deck in their own hands. Everything else was exactly the same. My source tells me that he took in a LOT of money and never used a microphone.
Jon-O the Great
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So if those guys sold the wallet for $20 they had $16 (or more!) in it, including shipping. Truly don't see the logic in that. MAYBE if I just put 'em on the table with a sign, then demo'd them ONLY when asked--MAYBE I'd sell 'em. But even that day at the show, NO ONE asked me if I had 'em.

But I have seen internet sites with the wallet selling for $30 and $40.

Jon

P.S.--I'M NOT A MAGICIAN! I'M NOT A MAGICIAN! I'M NOT A MAGICIAN! I'M NOT A......Smile
LeoH
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Visionquest:

Thanks for the insight on Jolly Roger's pitch. He has a great personality and comes across as a likeable guy.

LeoH
Kim
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I have to disagree on the Color Monte being a hard trick to learn,it is basically two moves with it all being the same move till the end,when the second move happens.
It was one of the first tricks Al of Al's Magic Shop taught and sold to me.
LeoH
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Kim:

I guess it depends on natural ability, interest in learning the trick, and dedication level. I remember it seemed to take me forever to learn the trick, maybe I'm just dense. It is a great way to learn those 2 moves, though! Maybe I need to stock a few when someone tells me they already have a Svengali deck..................

LeoH
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