At Santa Rosa’s Shuffle’s Magic Shoppe tricks dazzle, ice cream awes
Four years ago, 39-year old Brooklyn-born magician and hypnotist Jon-Paul “JP” Scirica and his wife, Cammie, found themselves at a crossroads after an unexpected job loss.
Scirica, who with his wife now own Shuffle’s Magical Ice Cream Shoppe, had previously owned and sold three magic shops in the San Diego area, fulfilled two six-month contracts with Princess Cruises and become a member of the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, an invitation-only club for only the best magicians.
He also had a successful career in retail management as a district manager for Jamba Juice, Levi-Strauss, Aeropostale and Forever 21.
In the back of his mind, though, he always had an idea to open a business pairing magic with something everyone loves, like ice cream.
After talking it over, the couple took a chance. They wrote a business plan and went for a business loan.
The magic began almost immediately when the first bank they approached gave them a loan.
Their first shop was opened briefly in a former nightclub on Seventh Street. When they found their current location at 123 4th St. in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square, even the address sounded magical.
From the start, Shuffle’s has received community support. Before opening, they had over 1,000 Facebook followers, and another 1,000 after a month in business.
Shuffle’s has been a family affair, with various members lending a hand one way or another.
One sister designed the distinctive logo: an ice cream cone man wearing a top hat with an ace of clubs tucked inside. Another helped secure financing by co-signing their business loan. A brother with social media and marketing skills has helped brainstorm business ideas.
Cammie’s late dad admired their entrepreneurial spirit and invested in their business.
Cammie, who grew up in Windsor, also owns Cambria Events, an event and wedding coordination business. She credits her mom with not only consulting for both businesses, but also helping with their kids and cooking dinners.
Even their three children help. On any given Saturday, it’s not uncommon to see the older two - ages 5 and 8 - either wiping down tables and chairs or outside selling marshmallow pops from their lemonade stand.
Scirica’s aunt owned an ice cream shop in New York, so it is a family tradition that he, too, makes all of the ice cream for Shuffle’s. Flavors vary by the season, but his best sellers are chai, coffee and cookies and cream.
Besides traditional flavors, other popular selections include lavender cherry, avocado lime, apple pie crumble and mint chip. And since he believes most everything goes well with bacon, his flavors also include maple bacon and chocolate bacon.
In addition to the ice cream and weekend magic shows that cater to children and adults, Shuffle’s is a retail magic shop with tricks, card decks and prank toys. There are several pinball machines and a couple of candy dispensers. Budding magicians can sign up for lessons.
Scirica, whose stage name is the Brooklyn Kid, is also a stage hypnotist whose shows can be tailored to any venue, from Project Grad nights to company team building activities to groups of friends looking for a unique night.
A graduate of Montgomery High School, Scirica was 17 when he saw his first magic show at the Sonoma County Fair. By the time he was 18, he found himself unexpectedly performing his first professional gig, a New Year’s Eve party at a private home in Petaluma.
“My mentor had gotten very sick, but he was confident enough in my abilities to give me one of his best gigs,” he recalled. “When I came home with a decent-sized check, more than my mom brought home in two weeks, it was the first time she paid attention to this little magic hobby of mine.”
He didn’t set out to be a professional magician or a hypnotist. With degrees in business administration and criminal justice, he originally wanted to be a Highway Patrol officer.
That’s forgotten now, especially when the couple see what they call “the Shuffle’s face,” the moment when the magic trick is finished and spectators’ faces show amazement and wonder, whether they are 6 or 66.
While Shuffle’s has become a popular spot for birthday parties and other kid-friendly events, the venue also hosts retirement, company, holiday and anniversary parties.
Kids in the 9- to 13-year range sometimes think they are too cool for magic, but Scirica is usually able to change that before his show is over.
Not all performances are done on site. Scirica and his network of magicians have entertained during Project Grad events at Rancho-Cotate, Tomales and Tech High in Windsor, appeared at various fundraisers, private parties and school functions in the North Bay, and been part of the Sonoma County Library’s Summer Reading Program, teaching magic to children at libraries.
For the past three years, Mattie Washburn School has invited him to entertain at its annual Book Fair.
Shuffle’s also hosts school field trips, one of which was for Windsor High School’s culinary arts class, where discussions focused on owning a business, being in the entertainment industry and how to make ice cream.
When Kim Van de Wetering, co-president of the Parents’ Club at Village Elementary, needed an entertainer for this year’s back-to-school event, she immediately thought of Scirica.
“I was looking for something that would appeal to both children and adults,” she said.
“Each time I have seen him perform, I have found myself just as captivated by his magic as the children. He is so good with his sleight-of-hand techniques that, even when I am up close and watching his every move, he always leaves me wondering how he did it.”
The couple’s children - they also have a 2-year-old - have seen his show so many times they have his script and comedic one-liners down pat. Cammie says the actual mechanics are still too advanced, but feels confident they will eventually master those, too.
Five-year-old Quinn Davis of Santa Rosa was enjoying a recent Saturday morning show from the front row with her dad, Bill. They discovered Shuffle’s about two years ago. Davis said he can’t count the number of times they have been back.
Since the fires, in an effort to support each other and expand their offerings, the Sciricas have partnered with other small, locally owned businesses. Their venue is used several times a month by entertainers Hope, Love and Magic for their storytimes and “Painting with the Princess” events, as well as by Clementine the Amazing, who does face-painting and conducts the kids’ painting parties.
Contact Towns correspondent Mary Jo Winter at email@example.com.