A Visit to Murray’s Cool Magic Store in Victoria BC.
On a recent visit to Victoria, B.C. in Canada I visited a really great Magic store and enjoyed a visit with its owner. The owner is Murray Hatfield who is considered by many to be Canada’s top magician. It was a delightful reminder of how much fun a visit to a brick and mortar magic shop can be.
Murray is famous around the World for his annual touring magic show that travels across Canada, following both figuratively and literally in the footsteps of the Reveen touring shows. Like Peter’s show it has now become part of the fabric of growing up Canadian for entire generations of Canadians. I have been aware of his work for years and have many friends in common with him.
Situated at 688 Broughton Street, ‘Murray’s Trick & Joke Shop’ is located in the heart of beautiful Victoria, it is easy to find and like many other magic shops has quite a history to it. It started life over 30 years ago as ‘Crazy Frank’s,’ Frank was a guy who loved jokes and it was the place in town every kid got his first Whoopee Cushion.
When Frank retired the shop became the ‘Victoria Trick & Joke Shop,’ but after a few years it’s owners wanted to sell it but eventually just shut it down and put the stock up for auction. However you can’t stop a good magic shop that easily.
At this time Victoria magician Tony Eng, and his wife Ann decided to give it a try and went to the previous owners and offered them a very good price for the business, although they could have bought it much more cheaply in auction. The trade-off that they requested was that the previous owner work with them for a few months to teach them the retail side of the shop. This turned out to be a valuable idea and they learned a great deal in a very limited amount of time. Often people don’t fully include experience into their budget consideration, Tony did so with great success.
The shop now became ‘Tony’s Trick & Joke Store’ and quickly became an iconic business. Coupled with an increase in the emphasis on magic in the store and with Tony performing literally hundreds of shows a year, both Tony and the shop became household names and a must-see stop for tourists and locals for the next 20 years.
Hatfield had known Tony Eng for over thirty years and visited with him in Victoria many times during their touring and about 6 years ago was somewhat surprised when Tony and Ann told of their plans to retire. They also asked if Murray and his wife Teresa would like to purchase and run the store. They had an immediate response to the question though; “NO!” They had no interest in running a magic shop whatsoever! Ah, never say never.
The next day they started to slowly re-examine the situation and realized that the idea had some very real merit and shouldn’t be so quickly put aside. The move to Victoria from Calgary was a large plus point when they took the climate into consideration. They took a deep breath, said yes, and the results have been a huge success.
I travel the world and always enjoy visiting the magic stores along the way and have developed a simple three-part way of grading them.
1 Are they friendly and inviting?
2 Can I get the ‘replacement’ items I need on a regular basis?
3 Can they sell me something new and exciting that I didn’t know about before visiting the shop?
I can wholeheartedly answer “Yes,” to all three of these questions about ‘Murray’s Trick & Joke Shop’ and even better than that I got to spend some time actually becoming an actual (not just a Facebook friend) friend of Murray Hatfield. As with any magic shop, it is the magician behind the store who makes it special. Murray was so friendly and such a joy to chat with that I can’t wait to visit with him again. I strongly suggest that you do the same thing if life is nice enough to leave you with some spare time in Victoria. Murray also keeps a strong Internet presence on the web at www.MagicTrick.com