Hocus Pocus Magic Shop
The Hocus Pocus Magic Shop was opened in the late 70's at the Bergen Mall in Paramus New Jersey ...downstairs in the "Village Square" section of the Mall.
It was labeled "The Mall below the Mall"
The "Village Square" was a group of about 50 or so tiny shops located in the basement of The Bergen Mall all clustered together and designed to look like an old colonial village. There was a toy train shop and jewelry shops, antique shops, craft shops, a puppet theater, and HUGE "Head Shop" ( one of those places where you can purchase drug paraphernalia) I remember it was called "JOINT VENTURE"...this was the late 70's and JOINT VENTURE was definitely the "anchor" of the Village Square with a steady stream of stoned customers.
The village square was otherwise a very nice, respectable and upscale place and there we were right next to an electric train shop..."The Hocus Pocus Magic Shop". A tiny little shop where we sold mostly small magic trick items geared to the beginner magicians and once people advanced to a certain point beyond what we could offer we would send them to Mecca Magic for more advanced illusions..
( *Here's my brother Bill demonstrating a trick to a customer...if you look closely you'll notice he's wearing the "famous" Farrah Fawcett t-shirt...yes those were the "Charlie's Angels" days.)
There was only room for a few people in the shop at once and on weekends when I would be demonstrating there would be huge crowds out the door watching thru the window and blocking the hallway so eventually I had to have set demonstration/show times away from the store out in the "court" so the Village could have free flowing people traffic.
During that period I had the best "chops" or sleight of hand skills in my life. I was demonstrating tricks, non-stop, in a busy mall all day, everyday and there is no substitute for that. There were several older magicians who would stop in and teach me different "card moves" and it was a great experience.
Ted Collins of Mecca Magic actually was our supplier when we first opened up. Then in a strange coincidence my father came to discover that "Robbins Co."... ( the biggest wholesaler to all magic shops including Mecca Magic ) was about 100 yards from where he worked in N.Y.C. He could literally walk there on his lunch break and pick up whatever supplies we needed.
( *My dad, William J. Ohocinski Sr. with my brother Bill inside the Hocus Pocus Magic Shop )
We went right from school everyday to open the shop weekday evenings and all day on weekends and we enjoyed introducing the art of magic to many, many people.
At first I was the main demonstrator but pretty soon everyone in the family was demonstrating magic tricks over the counter.
( my sister, Mary-Margaret, writing a receipt for customer)
When we initially rented the space, we didn't realize that there was already someone selling magic in the Village Square. It wasn't another magic shop but, there was a candy shop down the hall and a young man, a few years older than me at the time, had about a 2 foot square area of shelf space where he displayed a few tricks.
I remember when we first checked out the Village Square, I spotted the small display of tricks in this candy shop and I asked the owner if he could demonstrate something. But this guy had no interest in magic whatsoever ...He kind of blew me off saying, "no I can't do any of that ...there's a kid that comes in on the weekends and he's good at it".... "He could show you some stuff".
I figured the guy was talking about a customer or perhaps some kid that came in to hang out and that this kid would really appreciate a new magic shop with a pretty good selection of stuff and not have to deal with the candy store jerk.
But it turned out that the "kid" actually was running his own little business with that small display and as small and insignificant it might seem to someone else it was his gig that he created and I'm sure he got a lot out of it and probably didn't appreciate a new magic shop moving in. But what were we to do? By the time I met this fellow we were open for business already.
I would have liked to become friends with him but it was a weird situation and I felt bad at the time because we sort of moved in on his action without knowing it ahead of time. He had a nice little gig for himself and he was a nice, humble and talented guy as I remember.
His name was Charles Greene III and I understand that he is currently a quite successful trade show magician with many corporate clients. He was very industrious back then so it is no surprise that he would be successful. I am very happy for him and glad that he continued with his magic dreams and made them come true.
Though I've never run into him since then I am glad to have met him and through our brief encounter I was inspired by his entrepreneurial spirit at such a young age. I thought about him from time to time throughout my various ventures. I'll bet he would say that this incident was nothing more than a blip in his memory and that probably it in some way helped him to move on to bigger and better things. That's how winners deal with those types of situations. They just keep growing and getting better.
( Funny thing...I have no photos of myself inside the shop, however, here I am standing in the doorway of the "Hocus Pocus Magic Shop". The next shop over to the left is "the Train Shop" that sold Lionel and other electric trains and they were very cool neighbors )
I must say that I am so blessed to have had the parents I had.
My dad and mom would do anything for my brother, sister and I.
They were working class people. We had a modest home in Lodi, NJ.
Lower middle class .... but the love caring and attention that we received was the best!
My mom and dad would support and get behind whatever we kids would get interested in.
When my sister was into dancing ( jazz, ballet, tap ) ... they managed to scrape together the money to send her to dance class and then as a family we would all support her... going to her recitals and encouraging her to practice and be the best that she could be.
Same for me and my brother and our hobbies and interests.
My parents gave freely of their time and lives to make us feel that our interests...OUR LIVES ... were special ... important.
When you become a parent this has got to be your role. The most important thing you can provide after food and shelter. Probably more important than food and shelter.
My dad passed away in 1994 and my mom in 2001 and I miss them and think about them and their influence everyday.
I always thought... that if I could be HALF the parent that they were to me then I would be a good parent.
As my two sons get older I enjoy seeing their interests develop and I'm their biggest fan.
We have performed magic shows together ... they have worked on stage and behind the scenes.
I never expected my sons to become magicians or even to love the art of magic as much as I do but I know it was a blessing to have them experience the ups and downs, fun times and strange world of entertainment and I know that the experience has helped them in their current interests today.
Back when I was a teenager... The Hocus Pocus Magic Shop was to me a magical example of love.
A small demonstration of sacrifice and discipline acknowledging the value of family and commitment to fulfill Gods promises.