Shelton magician hopes to conjure joy with downtown gift shop

SHELTON — Bryan Lizotte is hoping to make some financial magic for himself and other artisans in the ever-developing downtown area.

Lizotte, a magician known for his card tricks and balloon creations, has opened the Shelton Gift Boutique — what he calls a “multi-crafter” venue where artisans can sell their merchandise every day. The shop is at 480 Howe Ave., which has previously been home to such businesses as Shelton Dog House and Reine’s Cakery.

“Downtown Shelton is awesome right now,” said Lizotte, a Shelton resident, born and raised. “There are incredible restaurants, and because parking is limited, there is a lot of foot traffic. I wanted to open something here where people could do some shopping in addition to dining — and take advantage of the foot traffic.”

Lizotte, who creates personalized T-shirts and mugs and stainless-steel rings, already has 15 vendors on board, with more calling every day to rent space in the shop.

Knickknacks, jewelry, photographs, and other artistic creations already line the shelves in the new shop. He leases space by the shelf and has vendors from throughout the area, including Shelton’s own The Bare Slate.

Overall, he said he can house products from as many as 25 different vendors at one time.

“I really felt that downtown Shelton needed a gift shop,” Lizotte said, “Not just me but really a place for other crafters to show off what they are doing as well and make some money in the process. It is nice to go into a gift shop and see a variety of items, not just one or two different things.”

Lizotte said gift shop idea sprang from a walk he took around downtown about six months ago. He had planned to paint windows for the holidays — which never took off — but while walking the area he saw not only plenty of quality restaurants but also empty storefronts.

“I thought this would be perfect for a gift shop,” he said. “Now here I am.”

This is the latest venture for Lizotte, known locally for his magical talents.

He was first turned on to magic at age 12, when his father brought him to a local magic show put on by one of the Shelton police detectives.

“I had never seen magic show before. I was amazed,” Lizotte said. “He took me on stage, and I helped do some tricks. It was wonderful. When I left that show, I remember telling my dad I wanted to be a magician.”

Lizotte never lost the love of magic, but his road took him to Quinnipiac University and a career as a medical technician. He worked at Griffin Hospital for 10 years, then another decade at a cancer testing lab before making the move to magic in his early 30s.

“I ran into that detective again, and he introduced me to the local magic club, and I became a magician,” he said with a grin. “I have been doing it ever since. It is hard work, but I really love to make people happy.”

Lizotte performs at restaurants, corporate gatherings, trade shows and private birthday parties, and also at larger venues, such as a long stint doing magic and balloon art on the concourse during Bridgeport Islanders games.

He is also known for portraying “Thomas” on steam trains and appearing in Danbury public schools.

Lizotte recalled one instance at the former Fitzwilly’s Restaurant in Bridgeport.

“I was doing close-up magic for a Mother’s Day brunch. They wanted me to entertain people who were waiting for their tables,” he said. “I was working the crowd, and I came upon two young girls, maybe 10, 11 years old. I remember walking up, doing some magic tricks, but no reaction at all.”

He said he took their seeming indifference as a challenge.

“I kept doing more tricks until I finally saw a smile, then they were laughing and giggling,” he said.

He said the family then were called to their table. As I walked away, a woman in that party walked up to Lizotte and thanked him.

“She said the girls’ parents had been killed in an auto accident six months before, and she had not seen them smile since. She thanked me. She said, ‘You did it,’” he said. “That’s why I do magic, to bring joy to people. And that is why I am opening this gift shop — to bring joy to people in downtown Shelton.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com