Archive for December, 2011

Happy New Year

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2011 by hocuspoc
It’s that time, that time when we reflect back on the past year and look forward to the coming year. When I reflect on the past year I just think how grateful and lucky I am to have my family, my health, and my happiness. Overall, I’m ending the year with a smile.

We’ve seen a lot of changes this year, some very visible and some not so apparent. On a personal note, the biggest changes for Betty and I were becoming grandparents (thank you Renee and Jonathan), we welcomed our grandson Zachary in February and the world will never be the same; we became “empty nesters” when Max moved out last summer; and we welcomed our other son, Cole back to Fresno from the Bay Area. We couldn’t be happier!

On the business side, this past year we saw the Hocus Pocus website home page get updated; we increased our Private Estate and Antique Magic product mix and business; our son Max started working at Hocus Pocus; and we finally convinced Tim Mannix to work at Hocus Pocus.

I want to give a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to you, our Hocus Pocus friends, supporters and customers; because of you we have had the BEST YEAR in our history.

 We’re continuing to enhance the shopping and ordering experience at Hocus Pocus. Many of the product video trailers are now embedded and easily viewed on mobile phones, ipads and other devices; we’ve converted several thousand items to embedded videos and still have several thousand to go, but we will diligently work at completing this project! We’re just finishing up the testing phase on a new shipping calculation program (never in my wildest imagination did I think testing a computer program could take so long!) and it should go live this month.  The list of enhancements to our systems that we want to accomplish in the coming year is HUGE and we thank you for your patience as we accomplish them.

We try to make Hocus Pocus all about you and hope we have succeeded. We want to continue to Deliver the Magic in 2012, not only the latest greatest magic product, but the customer service, the ease of shopping and the personal contact and conversations with all of you.

Have a Happy New Year.

Until next time,


All I Want for Christmas is a French Guillotine

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2011 by hocuspoc

 Christmas Traditions

When I was a kid, every year my parents would have my sister Jan and I make a list of what we wanted for Christmas. We were to make sure and make the list in order of importance as we couldn’t get everything. Well, I would take it one step further and use a check mark system, the more checks next to an item, the more I wanted it. So one year, when I was about 13 years old, I put a UF Grant French Guillotine on my list. It had four checks, it was the absolute most important thing on the list and we always got what we wanted the most. So my parents head up to San Francisco to see Buma at the House of Magic, but they came home EMPTY-HANDED. They explained to me that it was just not going to be possible to get me the Guillotine that year.


The catalog page for the French Guillotine

Every Christmas Eve our family tradition was that Dad would go to work and as soon as they were done with all the deliveries (he had a furniture store), he would come home and we would open our gifts. Jan and I would separate all the gifts into piles for each family member so that it was all ready for when Dad came home. Dad would come home early and then he would stretch out the afternoon, building up the anticipation for the Christmas gift opening. Another thing Dad did was to always trick Mom about what her gift was going to be, it was something he did every year, the joke was always on Mom. Finally, after Dad was home for a while, we got to open our gifts from our piles. When we were done opening the gifts from under the tree, Dad told me to help him bring in Mom’s gift. So we go out to the garage and there, in the back of his truck, was the Guillotine. The joke was on me that year!

Since then we’ve had many French Guillotines come in and out of the Hocus Pocus showroom, but none as great as the one I got that Christmas.

After we finished opening our gifts, we would go to my grandparents for Christmas Eve. My grandparents would have a huge party, over 100 people, with their family, friends and neighbors coming and going all evening long. They had this huge picture window in the front of their house and it always reminded me of the house in It’s A Wonderful Life. I would look out that window and see crowds of people all night long just like in the movie (except there was never any snow).

Tomorrow we will have Christmas Eve lunch at my mother-in-law’s house, then go to Christmas Eve party tomorrow night at my cousin’s house and finally, on Christmas morning, we will be at home with the family. It is a wonderful life!

Merry Christmas, The Elves Need to Rest

I can’t believe it is already here; it seems like yesterday was Thanksgiving and now we’re at Christmas. We’ve been working like Santa’s Elves in the shipping and receiving department all month long; huge shipments arriving every day and zillions of orders being shipped out every day.  

The Elves resting at the Hocus Pocus Christmas lunch

 Sometimes I wonder how we get it all done.

We had our Hocus Pocus Christmas lunch with food catered from AJ’s; you cannot believe how good the food is…lulu kebabs, grilled chicken, pilaf, salad and, of course, dessert. We had such a good time eating lunch together as a group, which is something we cannot do daily. It was festive and relaxing at the same time. After a hectic four weeks, it is nice to sit back and take a breath.

Through the Eyes of a Child

Zachary with Santa

I have always loved Christmas and I especially loved it when the children were all small. The excitement of Christmas morning was something I always looked forward to; it is just a wondrous thing to look at all the possibilities of the world through the eyes of a child. This year, I have new eyes, this is my grandson Zachary’s first Christmas. I know he still won’t be quite aware of the holiday and everything going on around him, but I have many years ahead of me where he will be bringing the excitement and wonderment to Christmas morning.


I’m wishing you all enjoy the holidays with the wonder and excitement of a child.

Until next time,


A Chipmunk Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized on December 16, 2011 by hocuspoc




From Thanksgiving through Christmas, the radio station we listen to at work plays only Christmas music; 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (You can listen to it live online at, We all love Christmas music, especially since we only listen to it seasonally, and we all have our favorite carols.  I have a few Christmas carols I like a lot, but one brings back a very special memory from childhood; The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) by Alvin and the Chipmunks. I know, I know, you’re thinking I’ve lost my mind, but I have a great story.

Ross Bagdassarian, the creator of Alvin & The Chipmunks was born and raised in Fresno, CA. Bagdassarian was a songwriter and he and his cousin, William Saroyan (yes, THE William Saroyan, also from Fresno) co-wrote the song, Come On-A My House which was recorded by Rosemary Clooney.   As a party joke, Bagdassarian taped his voice singing a song and sped it up three different degrees. This was a huge hit at the party and David Seville (Bagdassarian) and the Chipmunks were born; a party joke had turned into a multi-million dollar business.

Bagdassarian rented a house in Fresno which was owned by my parents. My Dad and Grandfather used to do all the repairs on the rental properties. One day, my Dad tells me, “we’re going to David Seville’s house to do repairs; do you want to come along?” I was 8 years-old, of course I wanted to go to the Chipmunks home! So we get to the house and my Dad introduces me to “David Seville.”

Alvin & The Chipmunks

 I then very politely ask if Alvin, Theodore and Simon are home. Mr. Seville, with all seriousness, told me they were napping and couldn’t come out at that time. This was my close brush with the Chipmunks and it remains a very fond memory to this day. Just thought I’d share that with you.

Christmas is Coming

This time of year, all day long, we get phone calls asking about deliveries. We totally understand this; we’re buying Christmas gifts, too, and want them by Christmas. Do you have it in stock? When will you ship? How long will it take to get here? While people ask these questions all year long, it is just so much more so during the Christmas season. Our goal is to always deliver when we say we’re going to deliver. Most importantly, if we don’t have it in stock, we say we don’t have it in stock and really try to give an accurate estimated time of arrival. It’s as important to us that you receive your order when promised as it is to you. We know how frustrating it is to wait for something you really want (we’re the same way with our vendors). We never want to over-promise and under-deliver, you have our word on that; we’ll always be upfront about your order status.  We’re very pleased to say that we have a pretty good delivery record and we will keep trying to make it even better!Santa Claus Delivering Gifts

Santa Claus Delivering Gifts

Gift Certificates

Gift Certificates are still available, and thanks to the magic of the internet and email, we can scan and email your certificates immediately. No fretting about whether they will arrive on time! But, if you do want an item shipped, we have a lot of stock on hand and available for immediate shipping. UPS expedited shipping can still deliver before Christmas!

So, on that note, I’m on my way out to the warehouse to help unpack incoming product and ship out the orders. Just like that…it’s MAGIC!

Until next time,


Every Day is Christmas at Hocus Pocus

Posted in Uncategorized on December 9, 2011 by hocuspoc

 Santa Came Early

Last week I shared with you some photos of my house decorated for Christmas. You know I love Christmas and I LOVE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS! I think our house looks spectacular, but there is always room for more. Betty jokingly told me no more decorations, that we have enough and I had to agree that we don’t need any more decorations. Then I found the best Santa Claus at a local store, I wanted this Santa, but decided no, it’s enough so I didn’t get it.

A few days later I get a call from our son, Max, and he tells me that Santa was at his house and needed to come see me. “Okay”, I said. Next I hear a knock at the door and who is there, but “Santa”, Santa Max that is, bringing me a gift.  I open the gift and there is the Santa Claus I wanted!!! Now that is a good son!


Santa Max and the gift
Santa Max and Paul
Santa Max assembling Santa Claus



Shopping Just Got A Little Easier

Tim is already making his mark at Hocus Pocus. He just started this month and he already thinks he can change things and he can! New eyes are always a good thing. We added two new product categories to the website this week thanks to Tim, Livestock Magic and Production Magic. Livestock Magic is all about rabbits and doves and other animals. If you need a device to produce any kind of live animal in your show, this is THE PLACE to look. Production Magic includes any device for producing items or any production item such as flag staffs, feather bouquets, silks and banners. You get the idea; shopping just got a little easier.



Ten years ago, I retained the manufacturing and distribution rights for Virtuosity from Larry Becker. Then, the unthinkable happened, and the components necessary to make Virtuosity became unavailable. We have done some hard research and have successfully found the components. BUT, these components are available in VERY LIMITED SUPPLY. We are able to produce enough of Virtuosity for a re-introduction to the market this week and they will be in stock and shipping the end of next week.


Virtuosity by Larry Becker

Another Dream Come True

In 1969, when I was 14 years old, the UF Grant catalog advertised the Buddha Torture Tube. It was priced at $250 which was so far out of my financial reach that it was the same as catching a space ship to the moon.  Today, the space ship landed and the Buddha Torture Tube is in the Hocus Pocus Showroom being assembled by me and Tim. At this point in time I‘m trying to decide if I’m going to sell it or not…



I hope you’re enjoying the Holidays; whichever one you celebrate, please take care to celebrate it safely and joyfully.

Until next time,


It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2011 by hocuspoc
Christmas Is Coming
Last weekend, keeping with the annual tradition in the Gross household, we pulled out all the Christmas decorations and started decorating for the holidays. Actually, we started and finished the decorating. All the boys were there to help out, my sons Cole and Max, and my son-in-law, Jonathan. Even my grandson Zachary made an appearance!

This is a family affair and I am not exaggerating when I say this is a huge, massive undertaking, but it is also one that I love. It’s an all day project starting at 10am and finishing at 5pm. All the neighbors come by as we’re decorating the yard to see what is new and different for the year. I have to admit that our yard sets the tone for the neighborhood. The house is totally lit up and decorated with animatronics, blow-ups, lights and various and sundry other things.

Merry Christmas!

The unpacking begins



The "Gang" waving hello


Cole and Max reviewing their work

Paul supervising Cole and Jonathan


Getting everyone in their proper place

 Windy City…WHAT!?!

The winds hit California this week and what a MESS! Even Fresno, which usually has mild weather systems (cold or hot, but nothing else) was hit by the winds. Last weekend we decorated the yard for the holidays; yesterday it was all undone. Penguins without heads, Santas in the wrong location, Snowmen strewn across the yard; it was like a Christmas war zone. My son-in-law Jonathan came over last night to reassemble it all and anchor it to prevent anything from knocking it over again. All is right now.

 New Tenyo Releases

Every year about this time, Tenyo releases new product. We selected what I think are the best two items, Flying Carpet and Third Eye, which arrived in stock today.  All the pre-orders have already been filled and we do still have a limited quantity on hand for sale. Tim and I have had fun all morning long playing with the Flying Carpet! You need to get these now, because when they’re gone, they’re gone forever!


Tenyo Flying Carpet


Private Estate

Tim’s been putting up items from a recent estate acquisition and as fast as he can put them up, they are selling. Yesterday, we sold an Abbott’s Super X Levitation in two hours. Two hours! Some of these Estate items are just so rare and so special and hold many memories of past performers that we hate to see them go, but congratulations to the new owner. Enjoy! Be sure to check the Estate section of the website daily for all the newest acquisitions.

You Want It, We Have It

Black Friday sales hit with a vengeance and we have hired extra help to get us through these very busy times.. If they have spare time, we give them a job!

Now is the time to UPDATE YOUR WISH LIST. When your wives, girlfriends, friends and other family members call to buy you a gift we can access your Wish List and make sure you get what you really want. And don’t forget Gift Certificates if you don’t have a specific item right now or want to apply it as partial payment to a more expensive item. Our warehouse shelves are BULGING WITH STOCK to fill orders and most orders ship complete within 24 hours.

Don’t see what you want on the website? Give me a call…I can probably make your magic  wishes come true!

Until next time,