A popular downtown magic shop is moving its business online due to poor sales, dwindling tourism and a tough economic climate.
Murray’s Trick & Joke Shop, 688 Broughton St., will close its doors permanently on Aug. 25, a sad decision for owners and professional magicians Murray Hatfield and Teresa Midbo, who moved from Calgary in 2006 to take over the business.
“We had intentions of having this as part of our lives for years to come,” Hatfield said.
Before 2009, the couple were able to ride out the slow winter months with strong Halloween sales, but a consumer shift to online sales and pop-up Halloween shops began chipping away at their bottom line.
“Locals don’t seem to come downtown as much anymore, with the big stores in Langford and UpTown – not that those are bad, but it’s a change,” Hatfield said. “There’s certainly a lot more empty space in the downtown core than there was seven years ago when we moved here.”
The couple plans to launch a revamped online store, magictrick.com, in September.
“Magic is still very much a tactile, hands-on experience, but the props, books, DVDs, etc., are all selling online,” Hatfield said. “The domain name is probably the most valuable part of our business.”
The trick and joke shop traded hands only twice over its four decades in business.
It opened in the late 1970s as Crazy Frank’s and was bought by Tony and Ann Eng in the 1980s.
Hatfield fell in love with Victoria in the mid-1980s after performing at the now-defunct JayCee Fair at the old Memorial Arena.
Visits to the West Coast became an annual event during the couple’s 25-year run of Magic ‘n’ Miracles, a fundraising tour to benefit charities across Canada, and they saw an opportunity when Eng mentioned he was ready to retire.
“It’s sad the trick and joke shop isn’t going to be in Victoria going forward, especially after three-plus decades of history,” Hatfield said. “That’s hard to walk away from, but it’s also an exciting new opportunity for us.”