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Stoner’s Funstore Offers Year Round Thrills


Photo credit: Mikaela Conley

Written by: Mikaela ConleyNovember 11, 2016

Joey walked into Stoner’s Funstore for the first time when he was 13 years old.

His dad wanted to help him find materials for an April Fools prank. It was 1988, and at that time, before shopping on the internet was even an option, Stoner’s was the only place to go.

From then on, Joey would walk to the store from school every day, then wait two hours until his mom could pick him up.

Little did Joey know, the store would play a key role in his future.

Dick Stoner, the store’s owner and a nationally known magician, welcomed Joey, and would show him magic tricks when he came in.

“That’s pretty much how the magic thing started, was coming here, seeing Stoner performing,” said Joey, who now goes by the name “Misfit.”

Misfit is now a horror magician, and performs his magic act “Misfit’s Renegade Sideshow” at various events. He also performs at nightclubs and opens for local heavy metal bands.

Stoner said he also became fascinated with magic when he was 13. His father used to do magic tricks as a hobby, so Stoner decided to make a career out of it, and did magic shows in high school.

“In 1948, when I graduated, I was almost making a living,” Stoner said. “So Dad said, ‘If this is what you want to do, why don’t you open a magic shop?’”

He and his dad searched around for a way to get started, and found out that Abbott’s Magic in Michigan was selling their Indianapolis store. Stoner bought all their merchandise, shelves and showcases for $4,500, he said.

His dad invested the money, so at 18 years old, Stoner became the proud owner of Stoner’s Funstore, Indiana’s only magic shop at the time.

People would come to the store from miles around just to get magic supplies, he said.

However, Stoner soon found out that he would need to sell more than just magic supplies to make a profit. He said he began to sell joke items, gag gifts, masks and wigs, and eventually expanded to renting out costumes too. He now has some 20,000 rental costumes available.

There were not many stores downtown in 1949, Stoner said. Coney Island and Regal Cigars are about the only two he can remember. But now, many more businesses have started to pop up.

Stoner used to have multiple storefronts. He had one location in South Bend, three in Indianapolis and one at

Coldwater Crossing in Fort Wayne. However, he said, due to the cost of rent, slow business and armed robberies, they all shut down — except for the original storefront.

While the city around it has vastly grown and changed, the original storefront remains in the same location, and has been there for 70 years. It’s now three times its original size, but only a few years ago Stoner didn’t know if that expansion was worth it.

During the depression in the early 2000s, Stoner said he was extremely concerned the store was going to go under because they didn’t carry anything that was really essential. However, his business flourished.

“I realized then, and I read some articles, that during the depression movie business was way up, liquor stores were way up, because people have to have fun,” Stoner said. “It’s as important as other things that you think you need.”

The costume business has also evolved since he started, Stoner said.

“Everything is so much more realistic than it was when I started out,” he said.

Masks and makeup have become more lifelike, he said.  If you walked into a darkly lighted room with some of them on, no one would notice a difference.

Despite different cultural trends, there are some costumes people always buy. Stoner said gorilla suits, gangster costumes and flapper dresses have always been steady sellers. Currently, the best sellers are masks and cardboard cutouts of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Tammy Fry, who has worked at Stoner’s for 23 years, said the biggest obstacle she sees is the temporary Halloween stores popping up.

“People don’t understand — they come in, they stay temporarily, and they leave, and they’re not even from Indiana,” Fry said.

So the Stoner’s staff does its homework to compete, going to an annual costume convention to make sure they bring their customers the highest quality, most up-to-date products. And by upping their advertising game as well, Fry said they have been able to bring the pop-up stores some steady competition, and stay open year-round.

The store has allowed Stoner to travel and put on magic shows too.

Stoner’s been featured on “The Statler Brothers Show” and other shows on “The Nashville Network.” He has also toured around the country — even Mexico, Canada and Europe — doing once-n-a lifetime events such as Muhammad Ali’s 50th birthday party and “The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

He’s met people such as Johnny Cash, Mickey Gilley and Dolly Parton through his career, he said, and a fair share of famous people have also been customers.

Richard Harris and Alice Cooper have both done business with him, Stoner said.

As for the future? Stoner just wants to see the store survive, he said.

“I’m going to live to be 100 or die trying,” he said.

He’s 86, but Stoner still jumps at the chance to show any of his customers a magic trick, or to ask if they need help finding anything.

He can still pull the card you are thinking of out of a random box before you even know what card you are thinking of.

And he still stands behind the same 70-year-old counter with a smile on his face.

“It’s just fun. I enjoy making people laugh, and it’s been fun to just be making a living doing that,” he said. “That’s why we call it the funstore. Because everything we have is for fun.“