Wayne Houchin at The Magic Castle

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Hanging with Houchin in the real world Monday night at the Magic Castle

My friend Wayne Houchin performed for the first time last week at the Magic Castle.  He spent the week proving that as good as magic can look on the Internet, it’s no substitute for the live experience.

Wayne grew up going to Grand Illusions, a great shop run by Steve Johnson in Sacramento, California. In fact, almost every great magician I know spent some time in a real magic shop along the way.

I need a good magic shop. Can you help?

Real magic stores are a rare thing in this day and age. Have you ever seen one? If so, tell us about it. What is YOUR favorite magic store. Tell us where it is and what experiences you’ve had there that make it special.  I’m working on my own list – in the mean time, tell us what YOU think.

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15 Responses to “Wayne Houchin at The Magic Castle”


  1. 1 SIX April 1, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Hi Aarron,

    I was lucky that early in my magic career I was able to work in a magic shop, and that lasted about 3 years before I moved on to another location.

    Tha magic shop is Rogue Productions Magic and Funshop located in Queens, NY. In my opinion it is the best magic shop in NY. Tannens and Fantasma are nice but there selections and array of products dont come close to ROgues Funshop. The customer care is top notch and best of all they do special orders, they order anything you need. And sense it is a mom and pop place, you can always talk your way into the best deal, even below internet prices.

    I must say working there gave me the experience needed to become the magician I am today, I constantly bought books and studied all night to return to work teh next afternoon and perform my newly learned miracles. Unfortunatley the internet is taking over and making it harder for the brick and morter stores. But there will never be anything like walking into a shop to find a bunch of magicians ready and willing to share advice and try out there newest effects.

    I have met many people who influenced my magic career and my theorys on magic. And Im thanksful to have not fell into the “Two Card Monte” group, and be in the “Be Honest What Is it Group”.

    All the best,

    SIX

    Rogue Funshop is located in Queens NY.
    85-08 Queens Blvd
    Elmhurst, NY
    1-718-505-0316
    Roguefunshop.com

  2. 2 mindpirate April 1, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Growing up in Northern Virginia, gave me two options as far as Magic Shops were concerned. I went to Al’s Magic Shop (run by Al Cohen) in Washington D.C. until it closed a few years ago. Now I go to Barry’s Magic Shop

    Barry’s Magic Shop, Ltd.
    5544A Nicholson Lane
    Rockville, MD 20852
    301-933-0373
    http://barrysmagicshop.com/

    Barry and Suzie always have great stories, and reccommendations for new material, and I always feel comfortable and welcome to ask for advice, or help on a sleight, or if I just need a set of eyes to see how I”m doing.

    I’m not sure what I would do if they were not around
    Actually the shop was on our local FOX News this morning.

    A talented young magician who lives in my area put together these great videos about the shop.
    Take a look,


    MindPirate

  3. 3 Tom Begley April 1, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    There’s a shop near me that I absolutely love going to called Mike Danata’s Magic Studio. Mike is a really nice guy and wants to help the customers more than make money. He once sold me two extremely rare out of print books for less than the RRP, he actually gave me a discount on them for a sale that wasn’t due to start until the week later. Not only that but enter his shop and you’ll mostly likely end up spending hours there just talking with him, sharing tricks and ideas and browsing his stock.

    It’s a wonderful place and the service is fantastic.

    http://www.mikedanatasmagicstudio.co.uk

  4. 4 Rosemary Eve April 1, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    The Browser’s Den in Toronto is awesome.
    I can’t say that I’ve experienced too many other magic shops… but that’s just because Browser’s is so great. The staff are awesome and help you out with anything you need and magic events are always going on at Browser’s. Whether it’s materials, books or just some advice you need, Browser’s Den pretty much rocks. =)

  5. 5 Joe April 1, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Denny and Lee’s is a great magic shop, run by a great guy!

  6. 6 Ben Train April 1, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Hey Aaron,

    It’s my first time responding to one of your topics, but I’ve been reading your posts since the beginning.

    I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve seen quite a few magic stores (probably close to two-dozen) and my favorites are, in no order:
    1. Broweser’s Den
    There are a couple of reasons I love this store. First, the staff is great. Jeff P., the owner, is a long time supporter of me and my activities, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be doing anything CLOSE to what I’ve been able to without him. Jeff H. is a superstar (as you know) who reads like a dog (a highly educated one…) and has mad chops. Between them (and John/Shawna) there is always a good level of intellectual discourse and magic-ing.

    It also has three components that many other stores DON’T have:
    a) It is EXTREMLY well stocked. Hundreds of books and videos, and thousands of props. This means theres ALWAYS stuff to look at and grab.

    b) You can pull books of the shelf and look through them. This is a big deal- I can peruse or even spend an hour reading something before I buy it. Rather then deterring me from buying it (I could read it for free!) it helps me make better purchases.

    c) There’s a table in the store, with close-up pads and chairs, and you are encouraged to sit down and jam. Some guys spend several HOURS there just showing tricks, trading ideas, and sharing stories.

    2. Denny and Lee’s- Baltimore.
    It’s the way I wish magic stores were. THOUSANDS of books, many out of print, a super cool store owner, and a giant pot belly pig. He closes when there’s no one left in the store and opens whenever people want to get there. My only complaint is I’ve yet to see anything else in Baltimore because I spend all my time there!

    Another cool thing are the GUYS who just come to hang out- Besides Denny (Which is all you really need) I’ve had the chance to hang with Darwin, Roth, Denny, Peter Francis (who’s told me some darn amusing stories about you Aaron…), Howie Shwartzman, etc….

    Ben

  7. 7 Scotty Chase April 1, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    I am from NZ, and there is only one Magic Shop in all of New Zealand unfortunately, however I AM lucky enough to be one of the two people that actually work there.

    Living in Christchurch, the reason that alot of us magicians are so close and the magic community is so close, has to do with the magic shop, we all order stuff in and buy things from there, BUT it’s the atmosphere that makes a magic shop what it should be, to a magician.

    I was reading about John Scarne the other day and the magic shop he frequented became basically a hangout for him, a place to chill out, discuss, do and practice magic. I think that one of the most important things is to find a place that you can stay and chat, and get to meet other magicians who are often about, because that is one of the biggest ways that you will be able to find self improvment. Bouncing ideas, getting constructive criticisms from other magicians is one of the best ways to improve our art.

    Just my .02

    ~Scotty Chase

    P.S I hope you find your way to lecture in New Zealand some day Aaron, I’m holding out for it 😛

  8. 8 Vega April 1, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Hi Aaron

    Well First Of All I want to say thanks for Panic, it really helped me to improve my showmanship, because it´s a simple trick but requires a lot of it. Even if Panic it´s so great visually it won´t work if you don´t prepare the scene, so thanks.
    Here in Mexico I only know one magic store, it´s more a li´l place in a commercial center, So there I found the first magician I ever Met, really!! I had never met any magician at all, even I am in this more than a year, because here it´s difficult to find help, advice or tips because of that.So I had to seek help in the net and develop my magic all by myself. Well, the bad thing about that magician was that he tried to overrun me with his experience and Knowledge (he had 10 years in the bussiness), anyway I always knew that it´s better to know 3 or 4 tricks at perfection, than 1,000,000 not well performed, so there were some people there and he did a card trick “card in Mouth” and everybody like it, and he challenge me to do something, so I perfomed Nemesis, a color changing deck of cards, but I did it so naturally and smooth because that was One of my 3 tricks, and everybody screamed and the girl for which I was performing the trick just let fall the card and practily flee… needless to say he was fried too, I was surprised to know that he didn´t know the trick because he thought that with the tricks he knew was enough… but it´s not. the Magic it´s an Art where you always need to improve yourself and it´s fun to Improve.
    So that was the magic store I know, the only one, but not the best, but It was the best for me because It push me to continue in Magic and showed me that sometimes it´s better to use your talents nicely and quietly. thanks Again and See Ya!!

    The magic store (I don´t remember the name) its located at Centro Comercial Santa Fe, Mexico D.F. in front Of Mixup records

  9. 9 jtmorris April 2, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    The Vanishing Rabbit Magic Shop in Calgary is one of the only brick and mortar shops in Alberta.

    j

  10. 10 Brandon April 2, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    In Michigan we are fortunate enough to have some really great shops. First off on the west side of the state there is the ever present Abbott’s Magic Shop (a sort of Mecca for me) if you have never been to the Get Together you have to make sure you get to one, it’s in the beginning of August each year. There is also a place called “Hippity Hop” in the Grand Rapids area, this is a great little shop run by some very nice people.

    Then on the east side of the state there is a shop called The Wonderground, run by another great group of guys. They have actually just recently expanded their buisness to another store so now there is one in Clawson, Mi. and one in Garden City, Mi.

    If the fact that we have all these shops isn’t enough we also host three annual magic conventions (The Get Together, Abbott’s Close Up Convention, and the Motor City Close Up Convention).

    I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in these magic shops as well as a great deal of time in a shop that is now closed down. It was always a good time and I learned a lot just hanging out there. Hanging out in all those shops helped me realize that the Internet might be good for some people but for me I’d rather buy all my magic books/supplies from a real person behind a real counter.

    I would also like to give a shout out to Mid West Magic in Chicago run by Tim Felix. I stop there everytime I’m in Chi Town. It is the best stocked magic shop in the free world.

    Sorry if this reads like a “Come To Michigan” ad, but what can I say, it’s a great place for magic.

  11. 11 Van April 3, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Up until a few years ago, my favorite magic store was Magicland in Dallas, but it has since closed. Now I visit Magic,Etc. in Ft. Worth and a new store in McKinney, Texas called Main Street Magic. Nice people at both places.

    Van

  12. 12 Matt Buckland April 4, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Aaron,

    As you know International Magic in London is a fantastic place to be. Martin has a fantastic knowledge of all things magical and if he can’t recall immediately a certain name or author he’ll gladly make you a cup of tea while you sit and talk about effects, handlings and all things magical! Not to mention the fact that Jerry Sadowitz works in the shop! They hold monthly lectures, where I saw your lecture actually and bought The Paper Engine, and organise one of the best magic conferences in the UK… I couldn’t ask for more!

    I’m living in Calgary at the moment and The Vanishing Rabbit here is awesome. Like the best magic shops they won’t stock everything…why not? Because everything they sell is vetted by Brent beforehand so he knows its all dynamite. The Vanishing Rabbit also runs lectures and has a fantastic online forum. I almost forgot when you go to the store be sure to say Hi to Brent’s dog Vanish!

    Matt

  13. 13 Allan Luu April 5, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Hey Aaron, How have you been?

    I noticed you had a question about magic shop and I myself, am lucky to have one with in two short bus trips. I can’t really say they are the best but from what I have heard about other magic shops, they sound like the best. The Vanishing Rabbit in Calgary, Alberta is my choice for the best magic shop, I go there almost every weekend, hang out, grab lunch and just sit and talk about magic for 6 hours.

    You should check them out sometime, the guys that work and own the place are super cool.

    Hope to hear from you soon,
    Allan Luu

    P.S. http://www.vanishingrabbit.com is there homepage.

  14. 14 Scott M April 18, 2008 at 3:14 am

    Hi Aaron,

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this thread for a while. Like another poster here, my prototypical magic shop was the old Al’s Magic in Washington, D.C. And I don’t mean the newer, brightly lit shop on Vermont Avenue but the old, dim, long and narrow place right on Pennsylvania Avenue. Weekend trips to Al’s with my dad were a real highlight of my youth, and the atmosphere of that shop, where the tricks and books co-existed with gross-out gags and novelties, established a vibe that I haven’t really found since. Of course, a big part of the Al’s experience was Al Cohen himself, who many have called one of retail magic’s best (if not the best) demonstrators. I used to buy stage stuff from Al’s but the years I went there — the early to mid ’70s — were the heyday of the packet trick, and I have a drawer full of the Emerson & West effects that Al demo’d so well.

    In my early teen years another magic shop opened in Rockville, Maryland called Dream Wizards. It was run by a very sweet guy named Mark Chorvinsky who, I sadly discovered died a few years ago. Mark had an idea for a shop that would combine all of his interests, so that meant magic, science fiction and fantasy books, and gaming. Mark was pals with John Kennedy and he marketed Kennedy’s version of the floating dollar bill, which, when I first saw it, just blew me away. I bought a few other things from Mark and I remember when I was convinced I had to do probably the most impractical trick for a kid birthday party magician — the vanishing birdcage — Mark, I remember, tried to talk me and my dad out of it. I wouldn’t listen and bought it from him and did perform it, although, in retrospect, it was a kind of stupid thing to open with.

    I took an almost three decade break from magic, although I do remember visiting for old times sakes the new Al’s and also Tannen’s in New York (the location where the elevator opened right up into the space). Today, the good experiences I’ve had in magic stores have been at Tannen’s and also the other New York shop, Fantasma, but one visit to Denny and Lee’s in Baltimore stands out. I was driving from D.C. to NYC and made it a point to stop at Denny’s, which I had heard so much about. It’s a great place with a great vibe. You’re actually encouraged to sit down and page through magic books (no shrink wrap!) to see if something might be what you want to buy. And Denny himself is really a font of inspiration and knowledge. He gave me a couple of pieces of casual advice that have really stayed and helped me. So I’d count that afternoon as my favorite magic shop experience of the last couple of years.

  15. 15 aaronfishermagic April 18, 2008 at 3:25 am

    My first Magic Shop was also Al’s Magic – in the newer shop on Vermont.
    And even though Al was a bit older by the time I showed up, I have to say that he was a demo man’s demo man. I developed a love for magic there that served me well.

    Until I went to college – that’s where I had an experience much like yours with Denny Haney.

    God Bless Denny Haney, eh?

    Aaron


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