In the Spotlight

Chuck Gruberman: Magician, Retailer & Industry Leader


Originally posted 03-09-06 in MBD2

Having difficulty in school learning things is what compelled Chuck Gruberman to become a magician. “I could do something no one else could do and it built my self-esteem,” he said. “I was very shy, almost backward, and I was never very good at sports, but once I started learning magic tricks I gained popularity.”

Gruberman has been performing professionally for 34 years. He entertains at private events, kids shows and birthday parties, scouting and black-tie dinners. He also performs at corporate functions and leads seminars such as “How to Add Magic to Your Salesability”, or teaches sales staff various flourishes like presenting your business card using sleight-of-hand. “I perform about 50 to 60 shows a year, nowhere near as many shows as I used to,” he said.

Currently retired from his retail business, the store–Chuck’s House of Magic, a balloon, party and magic shop–has had its doors open since 1982. “I was working in the hardware business at the time and told myself when I turned 40 I’d have my own hardware store or a magic shop,” Gruberman said. “My wife, Joyce, and I quit very good jobs to open the magic shop.” The store, having suffered a fire that destroyed its original location in 2004, is located in the Southgate Plaza on Dixie Highway in Homewood (pictures of the fire). Joyce is the president, while son, Garrett, is vice president of the firm. Visit www.chuckshouseofmagic.netto see more.

Several years after opening the shop he became one of the key figures to produce the first International Balloon Arts Convention (IBAC) held in Edmonton, Canada in 1985. “It all started as a Balloons and Singing Telegram convention”, he said. “We produced the event for six years (even getting full Pioneer sponsorship) then we quit but remained on staff. That way we were only heavily involved about six weeks out of the year.” The workloads grew while producing the IBAC events and all IBAC business was conducted from their store. Meanwhile, Gruberman’s profession and family grew, too. His and Joyce’s two children were quite young at the time. The IBAC conventions officially came to a close last year (2005) after a 20-year run. Now, the International Balloon Association (a separate organization from IBAC) is involved in bringing the balloon and party convention to the Chicago-area this Spring.

“I’m asked ‘what do you enjoy most?’,” Gruberman said, “I enjoy the pleasure my performing brings to other people. Often, the magic tricks aren’t the main part of the performance.” And if you’re considering the entertainment business as a profession, the Gruberman’s both suggest, “Have a lot of energy, a lot of time and a bit of insanity!”

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