Hello...and welcome to my first essay. I posted this elsewhere, but thought - at the suggestion of another member - that this may be appropriate and enjoyed here in the 'Essays' forum. Enjoy.
Regarding the mention on this board of over-inflated prices and 'rudeness' that occur when visiting local magic shops, I would like to make some points which we should consider when visiting a "brick-and-mortar" magic shop.
You cannot compare the prices in the shops to what you see online - especially on sites like Penguin. Online prices - especially from shops that do not have a physical shop with shop overhead - are going to be less than what average retail prices are going to be on most items. I get the feeling that some who visit the physical shops forget that.
True, many shops have over-inflated prices; but I have found that the ones with very high prices, (like Magic Max in Orlando, which I have mentioned in other posts on this topic), tend to be in very touristy areas. They can make more money selling to people who are unfamiliar with magic, let alone what the average, retail or 'fair' price is for various items. Additionally, IF those people ever find out they were taken for a ride, they are long gone from the shop. In those areas, I believe the inflated prices are aimed at taking advantage of tourist walk-in business rather than servicing actual working magicians. Working magicians should avoid such places.
For those not in touristy areas, I don't mind paying more than what I'd pay online. Here's why: First, I'm there. If they have something I want or need, I can get it with no waiting. I don't mind paying a little more to have it NOW. I'm impatient that way. Secondly, you get demonstrations. A few times in my career I have purchased tricks based on live demonstrations when I had previously not even considered the trick. I think that is a benefit of a 'brick-and-mortar' shop and worth a few pennies more in cost. Also, if you buy online, you pay shipping. In addition to having the merchandise immediately, if you add what you would've paid for shipping, I think you'll find in most cases that the retail cost is pretty comparable. Finally, a brick-and-mortar shop has overhead. Rent/mortgage to pay, utility bills to pay, employees to pay, insurance to pay. Those things are naturally reflected in their prices. Considering these things AND the fact that a magic shop will have very little walk-in traffic and is servicing a small, specific group of customers, you can't expect to see online prices at physical shops.
So if you want the priviledge and enjoyment of visiting physical shops, take these things into account before you complain about the prices.
The other thing is the attitude. Now, I've come across some bad attitudes with no excuse and that never changed. However, in most instances I've found that once I prove myself, (by asking for something only a working magician would need, mentioning or performing moves only a true magician would utilize or referencing another magician well-known in the magic community but not in the "real world," etc.), their attitude softens quite a bit and I end up "talking shop" with them. Here's what I think is happening: Those who truly love the art of magic get kind of tired of having people walk into their shops that know nothing of magic and ask for "that trick that the dude did on t.v." Regardless of who it was or what it was, there are a lot of people who will drop twenty or fifty bucks to learn a secret, never do anything with it, (or show their friends with an, "I know something you don't know attitude), and eventually tell their friends the secret behind the method. I can't blame them for that. In the last couple of years, nearly every single time I've been in a magic shop, someone has walked in wanting to know if they'll give a free demonstration, (meaning they don't want to see a specific trick performed for the purpose of deciding whether it's right for them, but they want a free magic show), and/or asking if the shop carries "that one trick that Criss Angel did." I'd have an attitude, too, if I got that all day every day.
So sometimes people who own or work in magic shops may take some time to warm up to you. Once they know your love for the art, your professional needs, that you aren't looking for secrets to tricks you saw on television and/or are prepared to purchase items - and thus support the shop and the art - then you're bound to get more personal and more friendly service. Remember, these shops are owned by people with feelings and responsibilities who sell secrets to the occasional "bad seed" while ultimately servicing a relatively close-knit family of people who work hard at keeping those secrets. ...That's bound to result in some cold shoulders in some shops. Put yourself in their shoes.
Keeping these points in mind may make your visits to the local shops a bit more pleasant and productive.