City Paper is not for tourists
Rockville’s Barry’s Magic Shop, which has been peddling card and coin tricks to the D.C. area’s magicians from various locations for 38 years, is about to pull its own disappearing act. The store, the D.C. area’s last magic shop, will close Sunday.
Married owners Barry Taylor and Susan Kang are closing the store so Taylor can spend more time performing and working on his craft. He also has more mundane concerns: if he stayed in the store, he expects he would face a rent increase on the space Montgomery County spent $260,000 to put him in five years ago.
For Taylor, it’s the end of a long love affair with magic shops. When he went into his first magic store as a boy, he felt like he had entered a secret world, but he worries that new generations of magicians won’t have the same opportunity.
Since he started the store, a lot about magic has changed. The Internet has altered how people experience magic, he says, and not always for the better. Where aspiring magicians once would have to hang around a magic shop to learn tricks, they can now reach thousands of video explanations on YouTube. Online illusion retailers are also keeping customers out of the stores where they could develop their illusions.
“For this art form, you lose it if you don’t come into the store,” Taylor says. There are still people who come to the magic shop, though, and Taylor bid them farewell in two lectures earlier this month that he managed to hold despite rolling Pepco outages.
Everything’s ready to go now, with the merchandise at half-price. Taylor’s been occupied during the shop’s final days enjoying old magic kits that he thought he had lost in the shop and is just rediscovering. Still, he says it’s time to close the shop.
“It’s time for a break,” Taylor says.