The Poker Test was selling like crazy and the reviews were wildly positive. It was something that I truly did not anticipate, especially since I had been overwhelmed with anxiety since it had been released. I was filled with doubts and thoughts kept running through my head. What would people think? Would they like my trick? Was I boring on the DVD? Did I teach enough? And the list goes on and on. Those questions plagued my mind night after night but then that all started to stop as the reviews came in. Everyone loved it and loved the gimmick. So much so that it completely sold out way faster than I anticipated and Penguin Magic wanted another 1000 as soon as possible. It took me months to make 1000 units and I didn’t want to lose any future sales, so I had to take action!
I quickly learned how difficult the business was of outsourcing products and having them made to exact specifications. I talked with multiple companies until I settled on one company that offered a good price, plastic sealed packaging and they could make working gimmicks. I hired them right away to make 1500 units (planning ahead this time) and let Penguin know that 1000 were coming. Murphy’s Magic Supplies then contacted me and they wanted to get their hands on The Poker Test as well, so they had 300 coming their way promptly. I used the money that I made to pay off all my production costs from the initial run, including the cards and DVD production and packaging, and then paid off this upcoming batch as well and was left with practically nothing. But I wasn’t worried, because I was paying up front for the new gimmicks, which means I should profit more, right?
It was a really sound theory at the time, one that I still stick to this day, but it did not go as planned for my first time around. When the second batch was finished and sent to Penguin Magic things started to go wrong. I was confident and had way less anxiety; it was time for that to change again. I started getting email after email from angry customers all over the world telling me their gimmicks hardly worked and that they could not perform the trick as I did in the DVD. Thankfully 90% of these came personally to me via email and were not publicly posted as reviews or on the magic forum boards. I am so grateful that the community let me rectify the issue for them, but man did it cost me. I had to hand make 400-500 gimmicks and mail them out personally to these customers. This cost me time and money, and a lot of it! I knew that I couldn’t keep using this company to mass produce the gimmicks, and I personally didn’t have the time to keep making the gimmicks amidst the high demand for the trick, so this created a problem with no obvious solution.
Luckily I do like problem solving hence why I started creating magic in the first place. And I like working under pressure, which is why I love performing magic as well. The pressure of trying to find a new company to outsource to while also trying to keep my reputation afloat was killing me. I had faulty gimmicks, angry customers, shipping errors, limited supplies and luckily a drive that kept me going. There were many times I wanted to cut my losses and just take the money and run (Like in the Steve Miller song, “That’s where they ran into a great big hassle, Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle, Bobbie Sue took the money and run”).
First things first, I discontinued The Poker Test. It became “out of stock” darn near everywhere, a couple small shops who bought it were still selling what they had, but it would not last. That hurt me, my first trick was doing so well and in a sudden turn of events, it quit existing. Even after the discontinuation of the trick I had emails rolling in daily about faulty gimmicks. This definitely affected me on a personal level and I know it hindered the relationships around me as I was not in the best mood all the time. I was not able to find a single company that I thought could manufacture this trick up to my specifications. I let many magicians down, I let Penguin Magic and Murphy’s Magic down, and I let myself down.
At this same time I had started attending college as well, I gave up my magic job and I started working for a law firm downtown. I hit a stagnant period in my life as far as magic goes. I was no longer learning, creating or performing. It was the dark ages for me.
In my next and final installment I will be sharing my experience at Magic Live 2013 and how a friend there helped me find a solution for my gimmick problem. Not only did I find a way to mass produce The Poker Test at Magic Live but I was also inspired and excited about learning and performing magic again. It renewed my passion in the art of magic!