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Bargain Hunters Descend on Magical Mystery Tour's Final Hours

Despite all his best efforts, longtime owner Randy Israel still couldn't close his doors for good on his announced final day as huge discounts had customers still vowing to come in.

Life imitated art, such as it’s called, at the now late, lamented store in Morton Grove.

Even though longtime owner Randy Israel advertised Saturday, Jan. 7, as his store’s “final, final, final” official day, the famed costume/novelty outlet had even more life after death, in keeping with some of the characters portrayed by get-ups in the store.

Earlier:

Lifelong Morton Grove resident Israel originally planned to close 35-year-old Magical Mystery Tour soon after the Halloween rush. But he then extended the lifespan to a projected Dec. 17 shuttering. Still the “open” sign flashed beyond that date and Christmas. Eventually he advertised, via flyers, a four-day “Everything must go” sale concluding Jan. 7 with prices 70 and 80 percent off.

Israel’s closing blowout bargains worked too well. In keeping with the budding tradition of closings-that-never-came-off, Magical Mystery Tour will keep its doors open until Jan. 10 to accommodate individuals and businesses who called and said they could not make it in to pick through the retail carcass by Saturday.

“A lot of people came – a lot of dealers, a lot of other retailers,” Israel said. “While we’re packing, we’re leaving the doors open. It (Jan. 7) really was supposed to be our final day – that was the plan. A lot of people who have vintage stores, people who have offices, people who have theater groups. After Tuesday, it’s pretty much going to be it."

“They were interested in everything, across the board. People are grabbing baskets and hauling it out.”

Spur-of-moment business in final official hour

And even into his official final hour, between 5 and 6 p.m. on Saturday, Israel did spur-of-the-moment business. Niles resident Howard Schoeneman, an employee of Friedman Seating of Chicago, was driving home on Dempster when he saw Israel’s close-out signs. He pulled over, entered the store, and began examining furnishings like black brackets and display racks that would be appropriate for Friedman Seating. Schoeneman spent time negotiating with Israel on product and cost.

“I sent an e-mail to my boss,” Schoeneman said. “I’m not going out of this store empty-handed.”

A quartet of Chicago residents, who declined to give their names, also walked the Magical Mystery Tour aisles as the clock ticked toward the official closing. They noticed Israel’s flyer at a flea market in Palatine where they run a booth. So they inspected merchandise they could use at the booth.

The final day was busy. Ten-year-employee John Ewen said he was “a little exhausted.” Customers came with trucks to haul away both costumes, novelties and store furnishings.

“We sold four counters, two trophy cases and manikins,” Ewen said. “One person bought $200 worth of stuff at 80 percent off. A lot of people see stuff, they want to buy even more.”

One life-sized costume, complete with gown and distorted face and head to fit over the wearer, was marked down to the final $175 from $500-plus original price. A buyer had claimed it and was scheduled to pick it up Sunday, Jan. 8.

Israel, who will take a long-delayed vacation before re-opening nearby as a costume manufacturing company, said any items or furnishings not cleared out during his overtime hours will be put up for auction. Details will be forthcoming on Magical Mystery Tour’s Facebook site, he said.

“I really thought we’d be cleared out by the first week of November,” Israel said. “It’s taken a little bit longer than expected. So we’re here, trying to sell what we have."

“They’re mostly sad that we’re leaving. That’s the general comment (of customers).”

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