Hello again Steve!
There's a bit of a back story to this. In May 98 I was in a dance show in the Jazz Jubilee (the first dance act booked in 25 years of the Jubilee) and was in Sacramento for a couple of weeks. I was in rehersals all morning, and doing demonstrations in the evening, but the early afternoons were free. Doing what all travelling magicians do in a foreign land I grabbed the Yellow pages and looked up the local magic shop.
One day I bunked out of rehersals early and caught the first of three buses to the address in the advert. To understand how daunting this might have been, remember I grew up on a farm in Northumberland (deep country) and moved to Edinburgh (not exactly a metropolis, but pretty anyway) when I was thirteen. I'm now on public transport in Northern California where stops are at least three miles apart, desperately looking for landmarks while conveniently forgetting that I did not know any of the landmarks anyway. Add to this the temperature was about 90-odd degrees (in Scotland if it tops 70 we declare a state of emergency) and I've been dancing solidly for three months, the fatigue was making me a wee bit kranky.
Luckily some of the locals took pity on the glow-in-the-dark-white-skinned dehydrated tourist and showed me where to get off the last bus, and pointed me down the street to the shop, which was a speck in the distance. (Although I lived in Georgia for 18 months when I was flying, I still get a bit awestruck at the sheer size of non-urban streets in the YooEss. The road was broader than most Scottish ones are long, with a long parade of shops along each side). As I walked along, watching the numbers steadily approaching my target I noticed a large pink (? possibly beige) brick building with wooden turrets. I stopped, checked the address, looked again, and had a terror filled three minutes as I tried to cross the road.
I walked up to the door, pushed, pulled, pushed again, peered through the window into the darkness trying to see past the racks and racks of costumes, pushed the door again, knocked on the door, thumped the door, shouted through the letterbox, had a look round the side, shouted again and saw the sign that said the shop was closed that day. Arse.
So I walked back the bus stop and got my three busses back to the hotel in a deep blue funk.
A couple of days later I got some more time off, and this time I knew where to get off the stops, where the shop was, and that someone was going to be there as I had had the presence of mind to phone ahead and ask :) .
In my first post I was a bit short about how Steve treated me. He greeted me with a smile and a handshake, asked me my name and what kind of stuff I was interested in. When he had finished his task he came over and chatted again, and then went about tracking down the copy of Majoke I had asked for (remember that this was a bit of a myth in the YooKay. Wilson had a copy but wouldn't let me read it, so I was keen to get a copy for myself while I was over the water). When Steve got off the phone he told me that his father was coming over with the magazine, and would be about half an hour. When he explained whose copy it was I could hardly believe it, but now I _had_ to spend another hour or so in the shop while I waited...
I managed to get back to the shop one other time before I left for San Francisco. I'm not going to be so bold as to say Steve's shop is the best in the world, but I think it is important to realise that after five years I can still remember every detail of the visit, and I bet I could draw a fairly good floor map. This is all due to how I was treated while I was there. I have no doubt that this is the main reason Steve has been in business for sixteen years, and I'll bet people will say the same about Denny's (a place I have heard about but never got to visit :( ).
People who are aware of me might have realised that I am incapable of blind sycophancy and I tend to speak my mind. This is not gushing praise, it is a well earned compliment. If I ever make it back to Sacramento you can be sure I'll drop by the pink/beige castle...
Take care, Ian