From time to time, we all encounter someone who is convinced that, “Magic dealers are ripping off magicians!”
The reasoning goes something like this: If a shop can afford to run a sale, then the shop’s regular prices are too high.
I have heard this claim firsthand from magicians in person and I have seen similar comments online. Recently, on a popular magic forum I read about a shop running a 40% off sale and the commenter said if the shop could afford to sell merchandise at 40% off, then retailers in the magic business must be making a killing.
FORTY PERCENT OFF!?!?!
I was intrigued, so I checked it out and sure enough the magic shop was running 40% off their catalog of magic tricks, books, and DVDs. It excluded any of their special-priced or one-of-a-kind items, but still, so much good stuff on sale! A lot of the discounted items were from
Magic shops don’t make the high profit magicians think they do.
This made me think that magicians really don’t understand what their local and online shops are going through post-recovery. Brick-and-mortar shops should be on the endangered species list. We’re talking hen’s teeth. And online stores come and go all year long, with only a scant few making it to five years. Selling magic is a tough business. I am always heartened by the shops that continue to push forward, against the odds, to be there for their loyal customers, and to spark the imaginations of the new generation of bearded hipster buskers, illusionists, and conjurers.
Margins are razor thin.
How much does a shop make when it sells a magic trick?
Answer: about 15-20% of the trick’s retail price.
Are you surprised?
If the shop sells you a $35.00 trick, they really only make about six bucks. Not a lot of profit considering labor costs, payment fees, insurance, rent, shipping to and for, server fees, utilities, and the time and expertise shared while selling you the greatest magic trick ever. By the way, that $6 profit only appears in the shop’s coffers if the magician paid full retail. Toss a 40% off discount into the mix and the shop just lost $7 on that $35.00 sale.
At 40% off, the customer is purchasing merchandise at the same price as the magic shops, but with zero risk.
So how can a “real” shop have a 40% off sale and make money? It can’t. The shop is not making any money on sale items at all. In fact, it is losing money. Its fervent hope is to make it up when the customer’s gaze falls upon a one-of-a-kind item that is exempt from the sale. There is also the hope that the sale will lure in new customers, be they pros or neophytes.
Magicians, take advantage of sales!
But remember whenever you buy anything over 15% off, the shop really isn’t making a profit. Consider also picking up an item exempt from the sale, or forgoing the sale and supporting the shop without a discount. C’mon! Throw the shop a bone once in awhile. Magic shops need your [full-price] support.
Now to translate that over to the Santa world it only takes you transposing the words "Santa Store" over the words "Magic Shop", and "Santas" over "Magicians" . Simply make the mental adjustments appropriate and you will see this applies to all kinds of entertainers.
So why shop a "Brick and Mortar" ? The benefits of networking. A shop is open 365 days a year mostly. It draws a lot of customers potentially looking for the services you provide. By developing a good working relationship with such a store in your area, you increase your chances of getting a gig you did not have to generate on your own.
You leave flyers, business cards and contact sheets with the store owner and if they like you, they hand them out to customers looking for the services you sell. Of course that means you need to be a reasonably good customer for this to happen. Drop in from time to time, pick up a pair of gloves or a prop if you see something that you could use in your act.
Yes it might cost a bit more than via the Internet but the added income from the jobs the store will generate for you is more than compensated. That and it is handy to be able to drop in last minute for that one item you need for a show!