Jim Riley, of Riley's Trick Shop in Worth. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 4, 2013 7:02AM
It’s fitting that Jim Riley, the owner of Riley’s Trick Shop, has a surprise up his sleeve.
On or near the first day of June, the Worth store will vanish and magically reappear about two miles to the west on 111th Street.
After 40 years at 6442 W. 111th, Riley has decided to move to a smaller and, he hopes, busier location in Palos Hills.
The new site, 8086 W. 111th, is in a strip mall near a tanning salon, convenience store and restaurant. It’s across the street from Stagg High School and Sacred Heart Church, which Riley hopes will lead to more walk-in customers.
“We just want to get some place that has more retail. There’s a Walgreens next door to us now, but there’s really nothing else near,” Riley said. “I hate to go, but the time has come.”
The store was started 76 years ago by his father at 79th and Rhodes streets in Chicago. It moved twice before, including a site in Beverly, prior to its current location in Worth.
Riley is getting out of the costume business, long a mainstay, which daughter Colleen Riley-Jage is taking over by holding at-home costume parties. She already has a few booked.
Riley’s is still a family business. Jim’s wife, Judy, and son, James, work at the store.
A reason for getting out of the costume business is the Halloween stores that pop up in vacant storefronts every September.
“They sell costumes for less than we can buy them for. What I call (those stores) isn’t printable. We used to advertise on the radio and people would come from Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Now there are 100 of those stores every year between here and there,” Riley, 64, of Homer Glen, said.
Remaining costumes in the store are marked down to $10 for kids and $15 to $25 for adults.
Costumes are leaving, but the profitable T-shirt printing business remains. And there will be more room for making the popular phony headlines and items such as coffee mugs printed for special events ranging from 40th birthday parties to weddings or graduations.
Longtime customers looking for magic tricks can rest assured that those will always be part of the store.
Some tricks from past years are long gone, such as the pen with the top that shoots off when you tried to write — think about poked eyeballs — and the prickly doorbell.
“There was one like the old doorbell. When you pushed the button, there was a pin that came out and pricked your finger. Imagine doing that now,” Riley said.
The hand buzzer, using a design unchanged since 1928, is still jolting unsuspecting handshakers, he’s happy to report. And they sell out their supply of trick golf balls every year.
A new location deserves a new name.
“We’ll call it Riley’s Tricks & Gifts. The reason for that is a good portion of what we sell, people give away as gifts,” Riley said.
Now the big question is how he is going to move the countless items to the new store.
“I ask myself that every day. We get the keys to the new place on May 1 and we’ll get started then,” he said. “We did it before, we’ll do it again.”