“Harry Potter Shops Here" reads the sign on the wall. I had just discovered the Trick Shop, the only magic store in Pinellas County.
Owner Steve Cargill greeted me dressed the part of a magician with his trademark cigar in his teeth. As I looked around the small shop, I couldn't stop smiling. Perhaps I'm gullible, but I've always loved the mystery of illusions and magic tricks.
Cargill, a professional magician, was entranced by magic as a youngster.
"I attended a school assembly where a magician was making things disappear," he said. "I wondered why the teachers weren't teaching this stuff. This is what I really wanted to do."
The shop is designed to create an interest in magic. The items range from novelty items for practical jokers to trick props and fully scripted magic routines.
I'm not much of a practical joker, but the squirting ketchup bottle got my attention. I learn how the ketchup bottle trick requires a believable fake trip and a verbal "oops" to be effective. I think my reputation as a klutz might come in handy.
Cargill performs a card trick and I am amazed by his finesse. His hands flow with grace and his patter keeps me entertained. When it comes to performing sleight of hand, I am intimidated. I am sure I am not that talented.
"Magic is all psychology and physics," Cargill said. "Anybody can do this. You have to be an entertainer and want to learn. It's easier for an actor to become a magician than a magician to become an actor."
Cargill's professional credits include a European tour, performing on cruise ships and appearances on national television. He tired of the traveling lifestyle and settled in Largo, opening his magic shop in 1981.
The shop offers items not found elsewhere. Cargill's copyrighted materials line the walls.
Private lessons can be arranged for serious students, and professional magicians can be booked through the shop.
Cargill's art is about creating fun.
"People want the stress relief magic brings. It makes people smile," Cargill said. "For a second, you're bringing people back to the time when they still believed in Peter Pan."