Driven. If I had to sum up Dave Bonsall in a word that’s the one I would go for. As regular readers will know I am something of a fan of traditional magic shops you can go in and visit. I’m not anti Internet – it’s how I earned my living for several years – but you just can’t beat the face-to-face, have a natter and a cup of tea experience of a real shop. So I was delighted when I heard PropDog had opened just such a shop. And even more impressed when I saw it in person.
So let’s start at the beginning. PropDog is unusual straight away in that it is located on an industrial estate in the Hounslow/Twickenham area. That keeps away the usual curious passers by of a high street shop and is surprisingly convenient for access to M25/M3.
When you ascend the stairs you reach a room which is half showroom (with a counter – but one you are actively encouraged to go around/behind!), half office and half (yes I know that makes more than ‘one’ – but it is a magic shop) lounge/kitchen. You can watch a magic DVD, browse through his library, or look at a prop before buying and Dave is friendly and un-pushy. The room is light and airy – decidedly unlike some of the more ‘traditional’ stores – and comes complete with a dog (called Lucy – and yes – she is the dog who inspired the shop name!) and rescue parakeet called Peeby (P.B. = PropBird of course) on a cage!
Cup of tea in hand (mine, that is) Dave explained how PropDog had started. He’s a man driven by the next challenge and had reached a point in his performing career where he was busy but felt unchallenged. At the same time, always enjoying making things on the side, he was finding an increasing demand for some of his custom items – the famous Ring Flight Revolution and popular Bonsalopes. And before he knew it he was running a magic store – the next challenge he wanted.
But what impresses me most about PropDog are the high standards Dave sets himself. From the simple but important ‘if it’s on the website it’s in stock’ rule to the 100s of prototypes he goes through to create the perfect prop. His Starbucks Chop Mugs are things of beauty and he’s still working on making the perfect chopped sugar cube to go with them.
He’s a man of clear vision and plenty of energy, and takes obvious delight in experimenting in the fully equipped workshop which is on the ground floor of his unit. As I wandered around with him I could see various props some released and some on the way in different stages of meticulous production processes. He’s an enthusiast and the results are very impressive.
So if you’re in the area I would highly recommend popping in for a chat and to pick up some great magic. Or take advantage of propdog.co.uk if you can’t pop in. I hope to be back before too long.
Oh, and I had to take this picture didn’t I?…