One of the things that amazes me is how certain stores continue to thrive whereas others selling the very same thing fail. A magic/novelty store is very specialized and if you don’t have the clientele, this type of business is doomed to go out of business. Thankfully, these stores that have succeeded have found that capitalizing on things like holidays helps keep the business going year round. Though they may have started out selling only magic and novelties, things like Halloween masks and costumes are now what helps make the business thrive.
This was very evident at Caufield’s Novelties. One room contained both the magic tricks and novelties (as well as lighting equipment). Three rooms were devoted to Halloween costumes, masks and props. Being a fan of Halloween this is not a bad thing at all. With stores like SPIRIT dominating the Halloween business in October, it is nice to see a mom and pop store like Caufield’s carrying so much more, and of better quality, than anything that SPIRIT ever carries.
Janine Caufield, manager of Caufield’s, was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her amazing store as a follow-up to the first blog I did about her store, seen HERE!
David: Share with us some background on your store and how you got started?
Janine: S Caufield, SR got into the novelty business by way of a circuitous route. An Irish immigrant, Caufield opened a photography studio in Louisville, KY, in 1920. Business was good and there were usually a few people waiting their turn in the studio’s outer office. Caufield, using the $15.00 he had received in an accident settlement, bought some magic trick and practical jokes to sell in the busy waiting room. Soon the novelty business outpaced the photography business and he put away his camera and opened Caufield’s Novelties. The store’s magic tricks, practical jokes and toys sold well even through the Depression years. While novelties were not something people had to have, they were inexpensive and lighthearted and the local public continued to purchase them, despite the hard times. Caufield’s continued to grow and expand its mix of holiday decoration and seasonal merchandise with the 3rd generation of Caufields operating the store.
Today, Caulfield’s is one of the largest theatrical distributors in the nation, actively stocking 1000’s of items. Caulfield’s manufactures, imports and distributes merchandise to locations all over the United States and to a variety of countries abroad.
David: What is your best-selling gag?
Janine: I think our best-selling gag would be shocking pen, fake lotto tickets and fake bed bugs.
David: What is your best-selling magic trick?
Janine: Our best-selling magic trick is Nickels to Dimes.
David: Aside from Halloween, what is your peak sales season?
Janine: Kentucky Derby would be our next peak season.
David: What’s the weirdest request you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
Janine: The latest weirdest request was someone came in to pick up a costume for their wife. We asked what size she wore and he said same as me. Found a costume and he tried it on to see if it would fit his wife. Came out of the dressing room wearing we think costume for his wife????
David: Share a memorable or funny story revolving around the store?
Janine: One of the funniest story that came to mind is a customer wanted to use her boyfriend’s credit card and we ask for her I.D. and she said she did not have any. We told her she could not make the purchase and she said she had a tattoo of her boyfriend’s name and before we could responded she pull her pants down to show us her tattoo on her butt cheek. Needless to say we did not make that sell.
David: What’s your #1 bestselling mask or costume?
Janine: Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger are annual best sellers but it’s also what is playing at the movies that year. For example everyone wanted to be FROZEN last year.
David: With so many specialty shops going out of business over the years what do you attribute your success and longevity to?
Janine: I attribute our success with our service, having knowledgeable staff and being involved in the community. You also have to reinvent the company and change with the times. We try to be unique and also being a family owned and operated for 3 generation we have customers coming in telling us their parents used to bring them here and they are now bringing their children.
The Daves can certainly attest to the fantastic customer service and knowledgeable staff, both traits of which made out visits to this amazing store all-the-more fun! We cannot recommend visiting Caufield’s Novelties more! You can visit their website HERE!
Before leaving Kentucky we toured the Louisville Zoo as we’d been unable to see it the day we originally planned due the aftermath of a huge storm having shut it down. From there we went to the Indianapolis Zoo (who else but us could manage two major zoos in two cities on the same day?) before returning to Dave’s condo to relax for our final night of vacation. We’d packed along a bunch of movies for the duration of our trip but, while some were better than others, we unknowingly had saved the best for last!
Coming Up, our 2015 Terror Dave Road Trip concludes with…”Digging Up the Marrow” and Unearthing the Fun