A wizarding world awaits Iowans in downtown Marion.
At the Iowa Magic Shop, owned by professional magician Tim Stolba and his wife Sue, the display cases and racks are packed floor to ceiling with magical paraphernalia. There are exotic-looking boxes, feather flower bouquets, crystals and crystal balls, beautiful three-dimensional puzzles, illusions, metaphysical supplies, magic books and videos, jokes and gags and even a selection of Harry Potter merchandise, catering to everyone from the professional magician to the amateur prankster.
The shop also boasts an intimate performance space, where, when public health allows, Stolba hosts magic-themed birthday parties and performs magic for groups of spellbound children, who may even find themselves floating in mid-air.
“I started learning magic at age 4 or 5,” Stolba said. After a lifetime of study and a previous career as an automotive technician, he became a full-time professional magician in 2015. Since, he has performed on stages and for gatherings throughout the Midwest. Last year he was hired to astonish a group of 8-year-olds at a birthday party in a high-end ski resort within the Colorado mountains.
Noticing there were no magic shops in the state, the Stolbas opened Iowa Magic Shop in early 2016, convinced local magicians needed an actual brick-and-mortar space to congregate and learn. That space was soon outgrown, so they moved to the historic downtown Marion in August 2018, into a century-old stone and brick building with a corner tower and turret that conjures up a mysterious medieval castle.
In addition to the many beginner’s magic sets by Penn & Teller, David Copperfield, Shin Lim and Criss Angel, Stolba sells his own branded magic kit and an array of branded tricks. Young magicians can buy a magic set and come into the store to be tutored by the very illusionist pictured on the box.
Every month Iowa Magic Shop hosts the Six O’Clock Sunday Sessions (currently online), a gathering of magicians of all ages who are interested in learning magic, sharing techniques, practicing showmanship and keeping their act fresh.
One young illusionist who apprenticed at Iowa Magic Shop is 14-year-old Remington Haynes, a freshman at Linn Mar High School. He became interested in magic at the age of 6, he said, when his father taught him some simple magic tricks. Haynes was smitten. He began studying magic and was one of the first customers at Iowa Magic Shop.
Haynes began performing magic at birthday parties and corporate shows and doing “table magic” several nights a week at a local restaurant. As soon as he became old enough to get a job, he asked Stolba to hire him. Stolba agreed.
“Working at the shop has been fantastic,” Haynes said. “The people I meet and the connections I make are wonderful. It’s very fulfilling to see young children get their first magic trick, because it reminds me of myself.”
He does many kinds of magic, but his favorite is mentalism — where the magician appears to be able to read the minds of spectators.
“Magic has been, is and I assume will continue to be a major factor in my life,” he said. “Becoming a magician professionally has always been in the back of my mind, but I’m taking it one step at a time and seeing what the future has to hold.”
Haynes encourages everyone, regardless of age, to find their way to a magic shop.
“Magic is a small art and preservation of it is very important,” he noted. “In my opinion, the Iowa Magic Shop is doing a fantastic job to help preserve and secure the future of magic.”
Though the entire world has been under a dark spell this past year, Iowa Magic Shop has remained open and not only survived but thrived, with a healthy online business, free shipping and local delivery. There is no magic trick Iowa Magic Shop cannot deliver to your doorstep, which, itself, is an astonishing feat of magic.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 294.