By Dan Majka

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Like a magician snapping his fingers or waving a wand, magic stores throughout Philadelphia have disappeared. Located at 617 East Passyunk Avenue, South Street Magic is the city’s only full-time magic shop and theatre.

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“Philadelphia used to be a Mecca of magic,” says owner and magician Seth Rovner. “Jack Kanter had a shop that was very, very famous. You had the Philadelphia Magic Company owned by a couple of great people, as well. Philadelphia for while was literally the Mecca of magic in the country, especially with shops. Now, that’s definitely changed.”

Some of the merch available at South Street Magic. (Credit: Tom Rickert)

Some of the merch available at South Street Magic. (Credit: Tom Rickert)

Rovner began performing magic as a young boy. He says he moved back to Philadelphia five years ago and saw a need for magic here. That’s when he decided to open South Street Magic.

“We’re half retail spot where anybody can learn any magic trick that they want,” he says. “We have great stuff for beginners. If you never started anything out before in magic we can teach you doing things, having you do stuff way before you leave the door here. We also have the newest and latest tricks for the advanced magician, stuff that you would get, have to practice and work hard on.”

Rovner says like any other brick and mortar business, magic shops have taken a big hit from online stores. But he says there’s a simple trick to keeping customers coming in.

“We have a great staff who can help you learn what you are buying, show you what you’re getting before you get it,” he says. “They’re knowledgeable. We can talk about tricks, why something works, why something does not work. That’s something you just can’t get online.”

The front counter at South Street Magic. (Credit: Tom Rickert)

The front counter at South Street Magic. (Credit: Tom Rickert)

And Rovner says he sees a variety of people come through the door.

“It really is all different,” he says, “from the 4 or 5-year-old literally buying their very first trick to the grandparents buying tricks for themselves and to do for their grandchildren, to the waiter or waitress wanting to do some magic at their table, to the bartenders, the teachers to the uncles.”

Aside from the retail shop, South Street Magic also houses a theatre, where live shows are performed five days a week, with everything from mentalism and pure sleight of hand to grand illusions. Rovner says a magician not to be missed is Dan Hauss on Friday nights.

“I know you’ve seen tricks with Criss Angel on television, David Blaine and David Copperfield,” he says. “Chances are this guy invented or created one of the tricks that you saw.”

A side view of the stage at South Street Magic. (Credit: Tom Rickert)

A side view of the stage at South Street Magic. (Credit: Tom Rickert)

There are also performances every Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

“The main stage show for Saturday night is Francis Menotti, who is also a creator and developer, but he’s also a great performer,” says Rovner. “He travels all over the world performing all of the time. Then every Sunday at 1:30 p.m., we do our famous family show, and that stars a magician named Mr. Messado. He is known for his linking rings. He has the best linking ring routine in the whole entire world.”

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And if you’re looking to make your child’s birthday a magical one, South Street Magic plays host to birthday parties.

“We have different packages you can choose from, from literally just a straight show itself or we can do pizza, drinks, interactive games, all of the kids can learn tricks,” Rovner says. “We do a floating child illusion at the end where he floats in the middle of the air. It’s a lot of fun. I definitely recommend it. The age is about four to 13 or 14 years old. That’s the kids’ birthday parties, but if you’re an adult, we do those too. We really work with any age.”

A collection of card decks for sale at South Street Magic. (Credit: Tom Rickert)

A collection of card decks for sale at South Street Magic. (Credit: Tom Rickert)

And you’re not limited to birthday parties or to holding the event at the magic shop:

“We book out kids’ magicians and adult entertainment as well,” says Rovner. “Sweet 16, Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs, any event.”

If you don’t believe in magic, Rovner says…

“Stop into South Street Magic. We’ll change that.”

For more information, visit

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A poster of Harry Houdini on the wall of South Street Magic. (Credit: Tom Rickert)

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