Thursday, July 13, 2006

Let's Not Lose This Bit Of Magic in Wheaton

As seen in the Washington Post, Sunday, June 18, 2006; B08

For three decades Barry Taylor has enchanted the children and adults who have come through his door, dazzling them with eye-popping card effects and the latest magic tricks and illusions. His captivating smile and warm demeanor have charmed thousands. Barry's Magic Shop, his small, family-owned business in Wheaton, is the only remaining magic shop in the Washington area. Yet it has been threatened with eviction by Montgomery County through the Wheaton Redevelopment Program. The county government reportedly plans to develop a landscaped pedestrian walkway in a location that has only limited foot traffic near Wheaton Plaza.

Barry Taylor and his wife, Susan Kang, have helped magicians grow in their Art for more than 30 years.
Barry's, at 11234 Georgia Ave., is only a short stroll from a Metro stop. It features a full range of classic illusions and up-to-the-minute releases in magic tricks, books, videos and DVDs. The shop has been the last of its kind in the capital region since the closing more than four years ago of the historic Al's Magic Shop, which had been a landmark in downtown Washington since 1936. In recent years Barry's also has maintained an intimate magic theater above the shop that has received extensive praise and recognition.

Barry Taylor and Susie Kang, the proprietors, feel that rents in today's market would make it difficult to relocate. They are excellent professional performers who have entertained audiences throughout the region and across the country. For many years they produced their Psychic Ghost Theatre show above the shop and have allowed magicians to perform there.

Barry's serves not only professional and amateur magicians in this region but also attracts magic practitioners from around the world who visit our area. The shop is a sanctuary for children who are interested in pursuing the magical arts and adults seeking a special way to entertain and amuse their friends.

I worked part time as a salesman at Al's Magic Shop for several years. The veteran owner, Al Cohen, deserved his reputation as the world's greatest magic demonstrator. When his shop closed, there was a great sadness and void among magicians.

There will be again if Barry's Magic Shop closes.

-- James C. Flanigan
is the territorial vice president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

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