A Little Magic

By Sarah Moore | 03/16/2010

An eleven-year-old Chet Shifflett went to the traveling carnival expecting to see the standard elephants and games but instead found a surprise that would inspire him for years to come.

A magician happened to be with the troupe and gave multiple 15-minute performances throughout the day. The trick that hooked Shifflett was a vanishing bowl of water. His interest drove him to ask his parents for more money and he purchased a ticket for every show on the schedule. “And really all that I was concerned about, it really wasn’t even the magician, it was that one effect. It drove me nuts!” Shifflett said.

He and his friends pulled their money together and purchased their first magic kit. Shifflett made his debut in the school talent show.

Soon after, teenage distractions had Shifflett focusing on other things, and he stopped pursuing the act. Then at the age of 22 he came across a magic book in a bookstore and thought, “I’ve got to have this.”. He bought the book and studied it from cover to cover. His love of magic was rekindled.

Shifflett and Kelly moved back to his hometown, Marlinton, in 2000 after Kelly finished photography school and opened Picket Fence Photos on Main Street. At the time it was the only photography studio the town had seen since the 1970’s. The Shifflets aren’t the only photographers in town anymore but they think having some competition can only make their business better. Of course, they have since branched out, so that photography is only one of the services the offer to Marlinton residents.

In 2005 the studio moved to the front room of their restored 110 year-old home on 10th Avenue, which came equipped with a picket fence. Two years later they purchased an adjacent home as a place to expand their interests. The home now holds the Magic Parlour, a fine art gallery featuring Kelly’s work and a gift shop. The Shiffletts would eventually like to see the studio move here as well, along with the creation of their dream Bed and Breakfast.

The Magic Parlour is designed to serve as an intimate space where neighbors and friends can gather to enjoy a weekend show. The bistro style tables and candlelight provide a mysterious setting while still keeping the onlooker connected to the performer. The Parlour seats about 12 but Shifflett has been known to also perform at the local opera house.

He and Kelly will both tell you that they wear many hats. “We definitely possess an entrepreneurial spirit,” Kelly says, “We are certainly not afraid to get out there and try things.” Eventually they would like to see the Magic Parlour doing three or four shows a weekend. Shifflett plans on switching the shows every couple of weeks or more often if the demand exists.

The last show he performs is always his favorite. He admits that the applause, whether from five people or 400 people is a high that can’t be replicated.

“Whether it’s a 10 -year-old kid or a 40 year-old-man, the moment that you do something and their mind can’t comprehend it… You can see their mind racing. That’s one of the things that inspires me.”

  • Chet-and-Kelly

    Chet and Kelly Shifflett bring wonder to Marlinton, WV with the creation of a magic parlour, gallery, giftshop and photography studio.

    RUN-TIME 3:09

  • Chet's Gallery
    Slide Show

    Check out the photo gallery for this story.

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