Dennis Watkins first mystified the city when he cofounded the House Theatre of Chicago in 2001 and won raves for the show Death and Harry Houdini (he played the title role). Over multiple remounts, Watkins escaped-performed a version of Houdini’s water torture cell upward of 400 times. Meanwhile, the Oak Park resident grew his one-man The Magic Parlour show from a late-night storefront affair to a swank prime-time experience in the Loop, now presented by Goodman Theatre and Petterino’s in an open run. When it comes to browsing shops, his artist’s sensibilities and magician’s needs are never far from mind.

Magic Inc.

1838 W. Lawrence Ave., Ravenswood

“It’s the oldest family-run magic shop in the U.S. I’ve made countless trips for props, books, and community.”


NOC playing cards
Photograph: House of Playing Cards

Royal Magic coloring book “My 4-year-old son shows interest in magic. This amazing beginner trick is one of the first pieces I’ll snag for him.” $10

Unreal by Bruce Bernstein “Bernstein is a Chicago treasure, and this is his book for the working mentalist.” $75

NOC playing cards (above) “As a playing-card junkie, I love their clean design. And for a card worker, they handle like a dream.” $8 to $20


The Understudy
Photograph: Heather Talbert

The Understudy

5531 N. Clark St., Andersonville

“The owners of this bookstore/café make gorgeous choices, like covering an arch in William Morris–type wallpaper.”


A five-panel baseball cap and ‘Bigger, Brighter, Louder’ by Chris Jones
Photography: (hat) Heather Talbert; (book) The Understudy

Fearlessly Different by Mickey Rowe “With a new family member diagnosed with autism, I’ve begun a deep dive into neurodiversity. I’m inspired by this actor’s story.” $25

Five-panel baseball cap (1) “The owl makes for a lovely and simple design.” $20

Bigger, Brighter, Louder by Chris Jones (2) “Chicago is the greatest theater city in the country, and this book chronicles its notable theatrical works.” $28



306 S. Dearborn St., Loop; 3245 N. Broadway, Lake View

“My bespoke suits are, well, special. The tailors here are quite adept at collaborating with me, which is fun.”


A custom waistcoat
Photograph: Zeglio

Made-to-order shirts “Choose the cuffs, the collar, and other details.” $180 to $1,000

Custom waistcoat (above) “The ideal addition to a man’s wardrobe. I’d love to fill my closet with these.” From $400

Bespoke shoes “Zeglio has overdelivered on my suits. If these are half as comfortable, they’ll change my life.” From $900