Reporting Lisa Fielding
But the small store at 4955 N. Western Ave. has been there more than 30 years.
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This small shop has a big collection of magic, jokes and gags. Floor to ceiling, there are hats, capes, wands, everything you’d want to be a magician or a prankster. Some items are even hanging on clotheslines.
“The stink bombs and fart sprays are our biggest seller,” owner Ashod Baboorian, an Armenian who grew up in Iraq, says matter-of-factly.
Baboorian – who is known as Ash or Mr. Ash — says customers can find anything to amaze, trick and tickle at his magic shop, which is one of only two left in the city. His clients include everyone from doctors to lawyers to judges, all sharing a similar interest.
“They want to do magic,” Baboorian says.
From whoopee cushions to exploding pens to rubber chickens – yes, people still buy rubber chickens — Baboorian says his magic and joke collection accumulated after he bought out Chicago’s own “Wizzo The Clown” Marshall Brodien’s TV mail-order business.
He’s been collecting and selling ever since.
“I have a disease called buy-o-mengitis — I like to buy things,” Baboorian says.
Outside the store, he’s been entertaining crowds young and old for nearly 40 years. He was on the old Bozo’s Circus show 11 times, he says.
Tourists from as far away as Germany and France come to the store, as do magicians and celebrities in the field, such as Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller. Ash says he has more than 12,000 magic tricks at his store, but people still like the basics.
“Card tricks still number one,” he says. “People (say) ‘I want to do card tricks.’”
As for the art of illusion, Ash says it will never disappear. The white rabbit in the hat – that’s another story.