2017-01-12 / Business

T.O. Boulevard costume shop hanging it up after 25 years

Magic Planet is leaving orbit
By Becca Whitnall

Thousand Oaks is losing some of its magic.

After more than 27 years in business, Magic Planet owner Michael Brotman is performing a vanishing act. He’s closing up shop at the end of the month.

“It was a hard decision: Do I squeak by and keep going or do we move on to something new?” he said.

The store, known more to locals for its costumes than its magic, started off in 1989 at a location down the road from where it now stands at 1779 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. After working for nearly a decade at what he calls a “schlocky, old school” magic shop, Brotman opened Magic Planet when he was just 25. Now at 53, he’s not sure what his next step will be.

“I’ve been doing this my whole life, so I don’t know what’s next,” Brotman said. “I have some ideas out there, but I just want to catch my breath.”

Not only is his rent going up, online competition is taking a toll on the costume industry.

“The temporary (Halloween) stores didn’t affect us, but the recession did. Then the internet has taken a share,” he said.

Patrons leaving comments on Magic Planet’s Yelp listing praise the store’s selection of costumes, accessories and magic trick items.

“Beautiful costumes and accessories, cool novelty items, and owner Mike was very helpful with accessorizing my flapper costume,” wrote Meg B. of Los Angeles. “Not your typical cheap-o Halloween costume store with seasonal employees, this is a career for these guys.”

Friends Bonnie Andrews and Angela Barrios of Newbury Park stopped in the store last week for costume party theme ideas. The occasional Magic Planet shoppers have been visiting the store since it was at its original location and didn’t know it was being closed.

“I’m so sad to hear that,” Barrios said. “It’s one of those boulevard stores that’s always there.”

“You don’t go often because, really, how often do you need costumes, but it’s just there when you do need something,” Andrews added. “I don’t know where we’ll go for that now.”

The women said they’d bought everything from upscale medieval ladies’ dresses to gothic vampire accessories, including fangs, wigs and colored contacts in the past.

Though there are some costumes that are popular year after year—Brotman cites pirates, for one—a fickle public cycles through favorites. The store owner said wigs and colored contacts are the current accessories of choice. Young people use them in their costumes for ComicCon and anime conventions.

He said sales took flight the year Power Ranger costumes were Halloween must-haves.

“I was the first to have the Power Rangers and I had all the colors and my competitors didn’t know where to get them,” he said. “That was when I first opened and it saved me—it was the biggest thing I’d seen since the Ninja Turtle craze in the ’80s.”

In addition to the countless Thousand Oaks residents who’ve walked through his doors, Brotman has costumed celebrities, provided supplies to companies filming locally and has rented his favorite costumes, like a Roman gladiator and Viking outfit, for commercials.

Customers wanting to drop in for a last visit have a couple of weeks left. Brotman has slashed prices and is hoping to clear his inventory before shutting the doors.

“It’s the end of an era for this town,” the owner said. “We had a good run: We did everything our way, the right way.”

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