08 August 2011

[Guest post] The new Browser's Den opens in Toronto

The Browser's Den of Magic opened up in its new location last week.  Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to step foot into the new shop.  One of our regular readers, however, not only visited the new shop, he wrote about the experience in the form of a guest post.

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.

A guest review by "The Magic Demon"*

From the world famous Yorkdale shopping mall and its easily accessible TTC subway stop it is a short walk down Dufferin Street.

From anywhere by car, the ample free parking out front is a godsend in parking-challenged Toronto.

It's set back a bit from the street, so you really have to go looking for it. The big Red Lobster building is easily seen from Dufferin but our destination is in the strip plaza just behind it. In its large front window
there appears to be theatrical red curtains pulled aside for a display of some of the marvels to be found for sale within.

You first enter a small foyer. You stop for a moment. On the walls you see impressive photographs and awards that have been presented to its owner. Right away you realize - this is no Joe Schmoe operation - this place is the "real deal".

Suddenly you enter the main room - and you are in a magicians' paradise! Truly an Aladdin's cave of magic, of books, of wonders yet to be purchased and revealed.

This is the impressive new home of The Browser's Den at 3220 Dufferin Street in Toronto, the city's oldest brick and mortar magic shop.

When owner Jeff Pinsky found out that the lease on his old location at Bathurst and Eglinton was up and that the old plaza was scheduled for redevelopment into condos he knew he had to look around immediately for a new address. Wanting to keep centrally located but also insisting upon better customer parking, he has done well to establish The Den's new home so quickly and so successfully.

We regular customers all enjoyed the old Den but its interior design could most charitably be described as "cheap and cheerful". Not that any of us cared. What mattered was the camaraderie of its customers and the humour and positive atmosphere created by Jeff and his employees - all still available in abundance (I am happy to report) at the new location too.

The appearance of the new Den is something totally different and unexpected. For starters, the main room seems huge. A commendable illusion because its retail floor square footage is probably almost the same as in the old shop. But the massively high ceiling plus an unusually beautiful stone floor create the sense of enormous space. Space to breathe in magic. Space to stop and look around. Space to enjoy the wonderful books over in one corner across the floor from the long main counter. I was immediately drawn to it and relieved to discover that The Den has maintained its reputation for housing an outstanding collection of magic books for sale.

Yet despite its perceived size the new Den still feels extremely comfortable to visit. Its relaxing colours consist of subdued browns and beiges with accents of white and black. Red signs and colourful framed magic posters cover much of its extensive wall space. And rather than using conventionally uniform retail lighting, there is an intriguing interplay throughout the shop of light and shadows falling mysteriously here and there - drawing your eyes immediately from one magical goody to another on display in the eclectic glass and wooden cabinets lining almost all its walls. Looking skywards there is a kind of slanted awning with reddish rooftop tiles up there all the way around the main room - making you temporarily question whether you are actually inside or are you outside? It's a kind of visual paradox that seems ideal for a magic shop.

Further inside (and across the floor from the main display counters) we come to "The Table". No need to tell fellow magicians what that means! And it's no longer a merely functional card table surrounded by uncomfortable folding metal chairs like at the old Den. The new Den's table is of tastefully finished light coloured wood in a classic oval shape. It's surrounded by matching classy solid wooden chairs with very comfortable green cushioning. They're all placed atop a luxurious red Persian style rug that together create yet another illusion - that of a very intimate space within the main room in which to share tricks and talk with your fellow magic enthusiasts.

The Den's new laid back ambience may require an adjustment of attitude from some old customers who were more accustomed to its brightly lit "cheap and cheerful" past. However the vast majority responded favourably to it right away when I visited. Looking around and soaking up the mood you may also feel (as I did) memories evoked of the great glory days of magic long gone and far away. But of course it's all modern and up to date too. Many of the latest wonders are for sale only inches away from you under the traditional glass top display counters. They run side by side in front of one wall from nearly the front of the shop all the way to the very back (and then around a bit). Hint - you'll find some sweet deals on discontinued effects on sale way in the back. (You're welcome).

If you ask very politely, you may also be shown "the future." In the back (still under construction) is an area designated for children's parties and private lectures/shows. Even further back is a partially hidden staircase leading up to a top secret room - dare I even mention it? - a Browser's Loft, if you will. Its future purpose is currently a complete and utter mystery.

Of course Jeff P and Shawna and Jeff H and Adam et al are all still as welcoming and hospitable as ever. They are friendly, funny, helpful people who could make any location feel like a home away from home for regulars, for new customers and for magicians temporarily visiting Toronto alike.

You must visit the new shop as quickly as you can and experience its unique atmosphere for yourself. If you think brick and mortar shops are dead, think again. This one has not only been reborn - it has been  significantly enlarged and improved. My guess is once you've visited it you'll be back again and again - and again. I know I will.

*Disclaimer: The author of this review has no personal, financial or business relationship with The Browser's Den in any way shape or form aside from being a regular customer for almost five years. The opinions expressed are his and his alone and may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner whatsoever without the prior written consent of Hockey Night in Canada. Thank you.

Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

1 comment:

  1. For more opinions about the new store, visit the Browser's Den of Magic Facebook group at: