Unmasked: Former owner of New York City costume shop opens store in greater Bluffton

August 22, 2011 

From fake dog poo to prank golf balls, Paul Blum, owner of the new Abracadabra costume and magic shop in greater Bluffton, enjoys a good joke.

Blum's expertise in gags, costumes and more is well known in Manhattan, where he owned one of the most noted costume shops in the country.

He opened his first store in Greenwich Village in 1986. There, Blum made a name for himself as the purveyor of Saddam Hussein-themed items during the Gulf War. For $5, customers could get a picture taken of themselves electrocuting a replica Hussein.

In 1997, he opened an 11,000-square-foot store on New York's 21st Street. Michael Jackson, Keith Richards and a host of other celebrities made appearances at the popular shop.

About two years ago, Blum sold his store in New York and moved to Bluffton's Colleton River Plantation. He says his house is filled with objects he's collected throughout the years.

"My house is like a museum," he said.

A couple of his collectibles, an Elvis lamp and a stuffed dog that barks and wags its tail when someone pets it, have made their way into Blum's newest store near Best Buy in greater Bluffton, which will have its grand opening Sept. 1.

Away from the store, Blum can be found in his garden, where he planted orange trees, peach trees, grapevines and many other harvest plants.

"I like the weather. I like the people. I like being here," he said of the area

Before owning his store in New York, Blum got his start as a street salesman. In 1981, after trying to hawk T-shirts, Blum decided to try some merchandise no one else was selling. He turned the $200 he had on hand into $5,000 with invisible ink and other mischievous items. Getting the idea from Steve Martin, for two-and-a-half years Blum wore a prank knife through his head.

"I would ask, 'Get the point?,'<2009>" getting a laugh out of his customers. "I just like to make people happy," he said.

At home, Blum has a macaw and black cat, both of which used to work with him in the New York store, ave since retired.

"They're not as enthusiastic to go to work as me," he said.

Blum said his ultimate goal is to open an amusement park in the area. The store is a way for him to finance that goal. He's working on opening an outdoor go-kart track, and a carousel Blum bought is waiting to be re-assembled.

"It would take up too much room in the store," he said.

Blum is upfront about his dreams and goals. "I didn't want to be a doctor. I didn't want to be a lawyer," he said. "I wanted to be a millionaire."

He is more laid back than might be expected for a former New York City businessman, a trait he says he's possessed all his life.

"I never look back. My life is too good," he said. "I'm happy. I always like to make my dreams come true."

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