Magic shops once dotted the area as wide-eyed aspiring magicians flipped through card trick books and longed to save enough money to buy the best magic props.
Magic shops have mostly disappeared, but the biggest one in New England is in Peabody – and recently changed owners.
Danvers resident Vince DeAngelis bought Diamond’s Magic from Eddie Gardner, a Peabody resident who owned the store for 17 years. Gardner bought it from original owner Paul Diamond when it was still located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Though Gardner sold the business, he continues to work as a consultant for the store.
“It’s been so much fun. You meet such a variety of customers,” he said.
DeAngelis has been interested in magic since he was a child and started performing at children’s birthday parties when he was a young teen.
At the time, DeAngelis, who was raised in Medford and Winchester, said he would beg his father to take him to Little Jack Horner in Boston.
He loved looking at the magic props on the shelves and dreamed of one day owning his own shop if he won the lottery.
DeAngelis never did win the lottery, but he left a job in computers to buy Diamond’s Magic.
DeAngelis said customers range from children to professionals, including priests, rabbis, lawyers and teachers. People with jobs that connect with customers visit the shop to find a new way to relate to parishioners, students and customers.
Diamond’s Magic has items for the beginner, including linking rings and cups and balls, all the way up to props for advanced magicians, such as Houdini’s straightjacket. DeAngelis said he recently sold a straightjacket to a professional performer who put it into his act.
“You get people who see a trick somewhere or see something on TV who say ‘I want to levitate somebody.’ Well, you should start with something a little simpler,” DeAngelis said with a laugh.
DeAngelis said Diamond’s Magic is the largest magic shop in New England and one of the only a handful left. Customers come from all over New England and magicians make a special stop to Diamond’s Magic when they are visiting Boston.
DeAngelis bought the business in May and has been working on revamping the Lowell Street space. He has already created a small stage with chairs for an audience, as well as moved shelving and put the office portion of the business in the back.
He plans to renovate another room into a space for children’s birthday parties. They will be able to enjoy cake and goodies in one room and then move onto the performance area where they could be entertained by magicians, balloons artists and other performers.
DeAngelis holds events at the business, including meetings of the Society of Young Magicians.
On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Shawn Mullins will host a beginners’ card magic workshop. Attendees don’t need previous experience and customers will be given two decks to learn card tricks.
The new layout, stage, seating and events are all part of DeAngelis’ plan to create a community feel at Diamond’s Magic.
DeAngelis wants Diamond’s Magic to be a place for magicians of every talent level to come together and learn from one another.
“I want people to put their feet up on the pickle barrel – like a general store for magicians," said DeAngelis. “I want to enhance that community feel.”