Initially, Joe started selling collectable magic in the 60’s; which turned out to be the springboard that started the larger and full-time operation. Over the years trading magic and information with the likes of Buma Sr., Harold Martin, Les Smith and others, the transformation was made to full time magic in 1973.
Realizing the importance of outreach SME has been credited with being the first company in magic to develop a “mag-a-log” (or cat-a-zine) consisting of high quality items along with features stories and celebrity profiles. This combination was successful and is a recognized consistent feature in all future sales publications. In addition to the unique aspects of the mag-a-logs, the featuring of sequential photos of actual products (not sketches or just text), coupled with extensive ad copy, allowed the recipient to be able to actually see how the effect played out by viewing the sequential photos. These and other features (the catalog printed on heavy stock, glossy front paper) helped SME gain prominence and respect from magicians who longed for details that previously were not available. In fact, many collectors have saved all the SME catalogs, claiming that they will be worth a lot in the years to come (similar to old K.C. Card Catalogs). We are honored to hear these remarks and wish we would have saved some of our early catalogs, too.
Shortly after the launching of the mag-a-logs, the next venture got off the ground; The Greater Magic Video Library. In addition to being one of the first to start this type of educational format, it was done in ABC Network/Affiliated studios and shot with two professional 1 ¼-inch format cameras. The quality of the shoots were tops and many people agree that the standard set the industry. The Greater Magic Library now contains over 55 volumes capturing some of the latest and greatest of magic celebrities and performers. Thousands of magicians have learned from the video features on the greater magic library.
In 1975, The Wichita Conclave was formed (which was the precursor for the Desert Magic Seminar), the conventions featured many of the greatest magicians of the 20th Century including but not limited to: Joe Berg, Jay Marshall, Slydini, Faucett Ross, Dai Vernon, Fred Kaps, Flip, Kuda Bux, a young Lance Burton, and David Copperfield. Over the years, there was no question that the small town of Wichita, wasn’t big enough to fit so much great talent and fun, so heeding the advice of Jay Marshall (The Dean of American Magicians) the convention was moved to Las Vegas and The Desert Magic Seminar was born, and has since made history as being a premiere convention with tremendous star power. Registrants make the annual pilgrimage for the great lectures and powerful dealeroom, and there is no disputing the awesome fellowship that comes with the opportunity to meet the most famous celebrities in magic and show business too. For 20 years the DMS was a great success as SME and Siegfried & Roy worked together in sponsoring this event. The convention continues now under the new name World Magic Seminar, in which Joe continues in an advisory portion.
Through such incremental and sequential steps, coupled with cautious and respectable growth, SME has been able to accomplish more then being just a quality magic shop, and they have established a reputation and respect in the magic world due to the fact they have always tried to give something back to the industry.
Another way that has been exemplified was the creation and successful running of one of the first Magic Forums entitled: GeMiNi – The Greater Magic Network. GeMiNi had an impressive listing of members who were able to exchange information on various topics and addition to the BBS portion; there were new weekly columns from a variety of respected magic icons. Also included were convention reviews, product reviews, interviews, and chat sessions. GeMiNi’s operating budget was far in excess of the revenue’s that were brought in by the annual $20 membership dues but then, it was never launched to be a money-maker but a way to give something back to the industry that has provided SME success. After 5+ years of operation, the decision was made to pull GeMiNi due to changes in the industry and take the energy and focus it in other areas of SME. Those that were members, remember the fun we had.
The significance of this history is to illustrate how we got to where we are today; and where we will be in the future. There is an asset to the foundation laid over 40 years ago that should help develop a sense of security with current clients and new ones. In magic, there are more places to shop then ever before, but in checking the history of such places, it’s important to learn if the company has a strong foundation, if they treat their customers with respect, offer them accurate information and have a proven ability to maintain a high standard of customer service in addition to only carefully selecting quality products to feature instead of offering everything under the sun.
SME is a brick & mortar, full-service mail order magic company that has been in business for 40 years.
The infrastructure is defined as:
- Retail Sales – Mail Order/Internet/Phone
- Manufacturing – Limited manufacturing of select items
- Wholesale and jobbing of select SME products
- Stevens Publishing – Featuring reprint of antiquarian magic books and contemporary artists.
- Creation and continued involvement with World Magic Seminar (formerly knows as Desert Magic Seminar)
- The Greater Magic Multimedia Library – Production and distribution of educations multimedia.
- Stevens Magic – Antiquarian sales and collection. Joe Stevens has some of the finest apparatus available (Thayer an, Okito). These pieces are now being sold.
Our goal has always been to carefully select only certain products that are unique, special or limited run (exclusive or limited exclusivity) products. Our clients are usually people who have been in magic for a minimum of a few years. We are not a clearinghouse that features all products – we are a selective store the concentrates on the unusual, hard-to-find, or high-end limited edition specialty items.
We are gifted with a fantastic group of people all of whom the majority of which have been with us for over 20 years. They understand the industry very well. These are talented people that have made magic their career. The knowledge they have is impressive and will serve you well.
Now that you know about our past, we invite you to get to know us personally, and it is our hope that you will give us the opportunity to serve you in the future.