Murray’s Trick and Joke Shop in downtown Victoria closing

There will be no large puff of smoke or silk curtain drawn as house lights fade to black. Instead, with the simple closing of a door and turning of a key, three decades of illusion and whimsy will end as Murray’s Trick and Joke Shop closes for the final time Aug. 25.

The store — the go-to destination for gear, tricks and effects for amateur and professional magicians, as well as a year-round costume source and a gold mine for would-be office pranksters and kids of all ages — is about to pull its own disappearing act.

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“It’s sad because of the long history of this place, and my wife and I were thrilled to have been a part of that,” said current owner Murray Hatfield, who along with wife Teresa Midbo bought the store seven years ago from Tony and Ann Eng.

The store has been around since the 1970s, when it was known as Crazy Frank’s Trick and Joke Shop. But it spent most of its life as Tony’s Trick and Joke Shop — that name stuck for nearly 26 years before Hatfield bought the store in 2006.

Now, it will exist only in history books, though its essence and products will continue at magictrick.com. It’s been the store’s website for the last eight years and it’s where Hatfield intends to focus his energy selling magic effects, tricks and accessories.

“Unfortunately, it’s just a sign of the times,” Hatfield said of the closure. “It wasn’t any one thing.”

Hatfield said the economy remains soft, tourism is still not as strong as it had been and rent has continued to increase — even though there are a lot of empty storefronts in the downtown core.

“At the same time, magic sales have gone increasingly online and costume sales are either online or mostly at those Halloween pop-up stores that come into town,” he said. “Any one of those things would have been survivable, but a combination of four or five of them is not.”

With a lease coming up for renewal, Hatfield said they had to make the decision to close.

“We are sad to be closing down, it has had a three-decade-long tradition.” he said. “If there was another option we would have looked at it.”

Hatfield, along with wife Teresa, has been a successful touring magician for more than 30 years and continues to tour.

He said he will miss the one-on-one magic demonstrations with people in the store, something stage work doesn’t offer. But, he added, the online store will provide a chance for some interaction.

“The website has grown as [the store] has faded,” he said, noting the website will be redesigned this fall.

“The new generation is often getting its first taste of magic [through the Internet].”

The website won’t exactly reflect the current store, as Hatfield intends to focus on the magic. He’ll continue to sell some stage makeup, novelties and jokes, but he intends to leave Halloween to the pop-up stores.

Hatfield’s more pressing focus is to move 30-plus years of magic, jokes and novelties.

“Starting next week we are going to be clearing everything out,” he said. That means everything on shelves as well as the shelves themselves will be up for sale.

“And there have been some interesting things we’ve found, some interesting magic effects and novelties from the past.”

All of it is on sale Monday until the store closes for good Aug. 25. And that’s no joke.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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