An era of magic ended Saturday, when the quirky, funky Barry’s Magic Shop closed its doors after 38 years.
Owner and founder Barry Taylor, 59, who opened the shop in 1974 when he was just out of college, said it was time to retire from the daily stresses of retail life and focus mainly on live performances, developing new magic tricks and shows and other aspects of the profession.
A steady stream of friends, acquaintances and magicians, paid their respects Saturday to Taylor and his wife, Susan.
“I’m ecstatic — all the people coming in, saying ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye.’ It’s great,” Taylor said. “It’s great, the excitement that’s been in here. It’s exciting to share the memories and camaraderie we’ve had through the years. That’s really nice. People are grateful! I’m grateful to you guys — to help you, and [to] experience magic!”
The Taylors decided to close the store because it was time to retire from retail.
Taylor said his first order of business after closing up shop was “to relax a little, and then maybe work on some techniques of magic, and create a new show. Maybe produce a show, or a special-event show.”
Although the Taylors look forward to a break, the mood from the many customers on Saturday was not as upbeat. With Barry’s closing, the closest magic shops will be two that are in the Baltimore area.
“It’s a shame that it won’t be here,” said Jay McDannell, 40, of Alexandria, who was visiting the shop for the first time on Saturday. He brought his son, Ben, 6, an aspiring magician. “He’s just getting interested in magic, and it’s a lot better to see it in person, than online. We’re getting some stuff to get started.”
Getting stuff at Barry’s never was a problem. The store had a reputation for always being well-stocked in everything related to magic: tricks of all types, books, magazines, DVDs, lecture notes, pamphlets, props, supplies, costumes, make-up, gags, novelties, masks, hats and anything else you needed to perform magic.
“It’s kind of a little bit sad for the community, because it’s the only [magic shop] here,” said Mike Brezovic, 41, of Darnestown, who came with his daughter, Jordan, 11, who’s also interested in magic. “It’s been a staple in the community. It’s neat — you can stop any kid with magic.”
“It’s devastating,” added Jordan, who was loading up with a stack of tricks to buy. “I wish I could come here more, every week, and watch everybody. It’s very sad. I wish it could still be here.”
At Barry’s, and any local magic shop, magicians gather to talk magic, perform magic, offer pointers and tips, and share their secrets — maybe — with each other. You don’t get that on the Internet, many people said on Saturday.
“You take it for granted — you can come in anytime and see your friends,” said Nick DeCiutiis, 66, of Washington, D.C., a retired banker who has been practicing magic for about 38 years. He’s also been coming to Barry’s since the store first opened in a small space on University Boulevard in Wheaton.
“It’s a place where magicians can get together, discuss various tricks you’re working on at the time — or life in general. In a magic shop, you’ve got the hands-on experience of the shop — the owner, and other people in the shop who can help you with the trick. With the internet, you pretty much have to know what you want,” DeCiutiis said.
Barry stayed on University Boulevard for one year, and then moved to a small, two-story building around the corner on Georgia Avenue in Wheaton. He stayed there for the next 32 years. Barry then moved to the Nicholson Lane location, where he has been for the past five years.
“You’re going to miss the personal attention that you get, the knowledge that you exchange, the personal touch, the camaraderie,” said Steve Travis, 46, a businessman, magician and longtime friend of Barry and Susan who drove up from his home in Columbus, Ga., for the store’s last few days. “We can sit there and talk with young people, and exchange knowledge. With the internet, that art will die — you won’t have this.”