Poof! Eddie’s Trick Shop in Marietta Square to disappear after 53 years

The current owners are ready to retire as the Internet pecked away at their business.
Lauren Donnelly tries on a costume eye mask during store closing sale at Eddie's Trick Shop in Marietta Square, Tuesday, February 6, 2024, in Marietta. Eddie’s Trick Shop, which sells and rents costumes and accessories and magic tricks, has been a Marietta staple since the mid-1970s. They announced on Feb. 2 they are closing down later this month. Currently, they are selling everything 60% off and a good portion of the store has already bene emptied. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Lauren Donnelly tries on a costume eye mask during store closing sale at Eddie's Trick Shop in Marietta Square, Tuesday, February 6, 2024, in Marietta. Eddie’s Trick Shop, which sells and rents costumes and accessories and magic tricks, has been a Marietta staple since the mid-1970s. They announced on Feb. 2 they are closing down later this month. Currently, they are selling everything 60% off and a good portion of the store has already bene emptied. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Whether it was a whoopee cushion, a deck of trick playing cards or a Roman gladiator outfit, the always quirky Eddie’s Trick Shop was the place to go on Marietta Square for five-plus decades.

But the magic is about to end. Kathy Beavers and Frank McKinnon, two siblings who have run Eddie’s since 1978, decided last month that it was time to close the doors and retire. Last Friday, they made the announcement on social media and the news spread like wildfire.

On Saturday, hundreds of people showed up to bid the place farewell, creating massive lines at the register.

Eddie's Trick Shop announced on Feb. 2 they are closing down later this month. Currently, they are selling everything 60% off at Eddie's Trick Shop, Tuesday, February 6, 2024, in Marietta. Eddie’s Trick Shop, which sells and rents costumes and accessories and magic tricks, has been a Marietta staple since the mid-1970s. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

When Lisa Oestreicher, an assistant at the Marietta History Center, informed her 8-year-old son Griffin that Eddie’s was shutting down, “he burst into tears,” she said. “He loves all things magic and costumes and tricks.”

So they went to the store Saturday where they purchased a puppet, a scary clown costume and a spooky lifelike skin mask. “It was insanity,” Oestreicher said. “We waited in line for an hour and 10 minutes to buy things. But it was okay. It was part of the mourning process.”

Customers shop during store closing sale at Eddie's Trick Shop in Marietta Square, Tuesday, February 6, 2024, in Marietta. Eddie’s Trick Shop, which sells and rents costumes and accessories and magic tricks, has been a Marietta staple since the mid-1970s. They announced on Feb. 2 they are closing down later this month. Currently, they are selling everything 60% off and a good portion of the store has already bene emptied. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

On Monday and Tuesday, when business is usually slow, the 60% off liquidation sale drew a steady flow of bargain hunters and nostalgic shoppers to the 9,000-square foot space.

Josh Hudson, a 40-year-old Kennesaw barber, on Tuesday nabbed an Ursula wig for his wife, fart spray, a couple of magic tricks and a Viking helmet. “I remember coming here when I was five and wanted to be a werewolf,” he said. “I ended up with this huge mask. I remember a magician showed me a trick and gave it to me.” He has since brought his seven-year-old daughter there to buy gag gifts.

“It’s a shame they’re closing,” Hudson said. “No place like it. It’s an institution.

Phil Bowen and Cindy Butler, after conversing on the Plenty of Fish dating site in 2009, chose Eddie’s as their very first meeting spot. “It’s like the Big Chicken around here, a place everybody knows,” Bowen said.

Butler, who lives on a farm in Powder Springs with Bowen, picked up a pair of white vinyl go-go boots because she thought they were cute. “Don’t know where I’m going to wear them,” she said. “Maybe to feed the goats!”

When former employee Kat McCrater, who lives near Orlando, Florida, heard the news last week, she immediately booked a $400 roundtrip flight so she could help out on that last Saturday and say goodbye to a store that meant so much to her when she was a lost teenager.

“It was a small price to pay to be part of such a special moment,” said McCrater, who worked there from 2010 to 2014.

Her memory of her first visit there was revelatory. “The place was bumping,” she recalled. “There was a fire breather and a magician on the sidewalk. Every day for the next two or three weeks I was there from open to close. I loved it so much. I had never met these people and I felt immediately connected. I started helping out and before you know it, they were paying me. They couldn’t get rid of me.”

Kat McCrater fell in love with Eddie's Trick Shop in 2010 and worked there four years. She is seen goofing around in the store during that time frame. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

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Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Exterior of Eddie's Trick Shop in Marietta Square, Tuesday, February 6, 2024, in Marietta. Eddie’s Trick Shop, which sells and rents costumes and accessories and magic tricks, has been a Marietta staple since the mid-1970s. They announced on Feb. 2 they are closing down later this month. Currently, they are selling everything 60% off and a good portion of the store has already bene emptied. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

When McCrater came back this past Saturday, “it still felt like home. The smell of the store, the buzz of the lights, the sounds of the floorboards. It immediately felt like my childhood.”

Sue Puschak, the store manager, on Monday was still in shell shock, taking calls in the back office from folks asking when they were closing. (The store may stay open until the end of the month.)

She was a high school friend of the McKinnons and joined the store in 1988. She never left. At age 62, she has no idea what she’s going to do next. For now, she’s just helping clear out inventory.

“People will be buying the floorboards,” she said. At that moment, employee Morgan Hoffman came in to ask how much to charge a customer who wanted a spider-web basket she was holding. Puschak looked at it and sighed. “Just give it to them and thank them for coming,” she said.

By Tuesday, about half the inventory was gone. Puschak said the pricey stuff went first: the mascot outfits, the marionette puppets, the high-end Batman and stormtrooper costumes. By Thursday morning, she said there was still plenty of costumes, wigs, hats and accessories left.

Marietta Square over the decades has always prided itself for its eclectic mix of mom-and-pop stores. On the same block, there’s Rocket Fizz soda pop and candy store, the Australian Bakery Cafe known for its meat pies and Sweet Melissa Records tucked in the back of Antiques on the Square.

Eddie’s has always been one of the most memorable. Philip Goldstein, who owns much of the property on Marietta Square, has known the McKinnons for decades and kept their rent reasonable their entire run. “We hate to see them go,” he said. “They were great tenants.” (He is already taking inquiries to fill the space.)

Oscar Kilgo first opened Eddie’s Trick Shop in 1971 on Marietta Square in a tiny 450-square-foot space, naming it after his wife Edna. Bob McKinnon, an industrial chemical salesman, used to buy magic tricks from him to give to secretaries at businesses as gifts as a way to be memorable. In 1978, Kilgo was moving to Florida and asked McKinnon if he wanted to buy the store. So he did.

Bob’s then 18-year-old son Frank became the store manager and for Frank, it morphed into his entire career.

Eddie's Trick Shop on the Marietta Square in October 2009 as 12-year-old Erik Pound was busy finding just the right mask. That's Erik on the left. Erik's mom, Candi Pound, right, appears pretty disgusted at what she sees. PHOTO BY ANDY SHARP/STAFF.

Credit: AJC staff

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Credit: AJC staff

For years, Eddie’s Trick Shop, which moved multiple times on Marietta Square, provided makeup, costumes and masks to local high schools, theater productions and haunted houses. They opened a warehouse in Decatur and developed a healthy wholesale business, providing goods to other costume shops nationwide. They owned a dancewear store in the back of Eddie’s Trick Shop selling ballet gear. For a time, they had franchise locations in Conyers, Buckhead and Knoxville, Tennessee.

While costume rentals and sales were seasonal, with bumps around Easter, Dragon Con, Halloween and Christmas, the gag and magic trick side of the business was steadier, Puschak said.

But the Internet gradually siphoned off customers. In their dancewear business, people would come in to get fitted for shoes, then say they’d come back later. “We never saw them again,” McKinnon said. “They’d just order it online cheaper.”

The pandemic only encouraged people to buy online even more. “I don’t want to say COVID killed our business,” McKinnon said. “But it had an effect. It definitely hurt our wholesale business.”

Other costume shops in the area have closed in recent years including Costumes Etc. in Little Five Points. Atlanta Costume morphed into Norcostco, which now focuses more on makeup than costumes.

“You get tired of people coming in and saying they can buy it on Amazon for significantly less,” McKinnon said.

McKinnon said his kids, nieces and nephews worked at the store when they were teens. But nobody in the third generation wanted to take over.

Besides, he said ruefully, “it would be cruel.”

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