Once upon a time, American communities boasted a plethora of privately owned “mom and pop” stores that carried unique items guaranteeing no two were the same. Often they were operated by local residents whom you knew by name and, more importantly, knew yours along with your interests. Eventually big name corporations would arrive and wipe most of them out by featuring standard merchandise (usually cheaper) via large retail stores that enticed busy consumers with the luxury of a “one stop shop.” The dawn of the Internet would present further challenges as online sales and auctions made tracking down even the most elusive item as simple as the press of a button. Though we may have an easier time heading to our nearest Walmart or ordering something from the comfort of our homes, there will always be something lost in doing so. Those of us who grew up in a world dominated by private businesses know full well that there was a sort of ambiance being inside their musty walls and surrounded by a cornucopia of like-items you could see with your own eyes and touch with your hands. Say what you will about convenience, it will never compare with the full immersive “experience” these places offered.
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.
While on our 2015 Terror Dave road trip, we visited many things and had many discussions. On April 3rd we headed to one of the world’s largest bats in Louisville, KY (and I am not talking about the 120 foot baseball bat that stands outside of the Louisville Slugger Museum). Those that know us are aware of the fact that sports rate very low on our list of priorities so that when the Daves go to see the world’s largest bat, you can bet it is either something zoological or something scary.