Houdini's Magic Shop
FIRST PLACE WINNER
Best of Las Vegas - Review Journal
for Novelty Shop
At Houdini’s Magic Shop, shelves are jam packed with the unusual.
Picking out just the right magic trick can be difficult with so many options, but with any luck, the resident magician can help — after he or she performs for the waiting crowd.
Geno Munari opened the first Houdini’s Magic Shop in 1992 at the MGM Grand Adventure Theme Park after thinking the former Las Vegas haunt would be a good place to sell magic. Today, he owns five Las Vegas locations, plus one in San Francisco and one in Disneyland.
“Business has been good. We’re one of the few brick-and-mortar shops left in the whole world,” Munari said.
In 1993 the magic man began printing instruction booklets to sell with his tricks in an effort to differentiate himself. At the time he found out that magic tricks were being sold at a counter elsewhere in the theme park at cheaper prices. Concerned about his investment, Munari said he figured if he could make his tricks more valuable by explaining 50 different things to do with them, he could price his a little higher and stay in business.
“It worked out real well,” Munari said.
Eventually he purchased a printing press to make the pamphlets himself. Munari’s differentiation plan then snowballed into a second venture, Houdini Publishing.
“I looked like ‘I Love Lucy’ on the assembly line,” Munari recalled.
Today, his magic empire is housed in 10,000 square feet of office and warehouse space in Las Vegas. He’s also added video shorts with the sale of his tricks, which can be accessed with a code online.
“There’s much more competition now and everybody wants to be a Sunday magic shop owner (online). It didn’t used to be that way,” Munari said.
With close to 100 people in his employ, Munari still is passionate about his craft. His love for magic came at 12 when he was sidelined with a broken right leg. His father bought him a book about Houdini and Munari was hooked.
Today, he gleans enjoyment from his stores, which he described as “magic retail entertainment.”
“The amazement I see in people, watching people’s amazement and the wonder on their faces, I never cease to enjoy that,” Munari said.
In the future Munari plans to release a few of his products in major stores around the United States. He said there also are new locations on the drawing board, but couldn’t release specifics of either venture yet.