Age doesn’t stop Johnny Hanlon from learning new tricks. In fact, he has new tricks up his sleeve all the time, and he brings them to work, too.
At 70 years old, Hanlon, a new member on the Deseret Industries associate team, said he is living the dream. He spends four hours a day, five days a week, at the DI in Logan. Tidying up the clothes racks and organizing the fitting rooms occupies most of his time.
However, every once in a while, Hanlon reaches into his bulging pockets, picks from a variety of magic tricks and performs for customers.
“It really breaks the ice and helps people have a good time,” Hanlon said. “I do it on the spot because sometimes I get a crowd of people.”
Hanlon spent 30 years in Wisconsin as a boiler operator for Del Monte and has four children and 15 grandchildren. His 9-year-old grandson is one of the reasons magic has become part of his daily life.
A couple months ago, health issues brought his grandson from his home in Las Vegas to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. The extended hospital stay needed a little silver lining, so Hanlon and his grandson began studying magic. Together they wowed the nurses. Even now that his grandson is home and doing better, Hanlon continues his search for new tricks.
“Tricks cost money and so I started looking for jobs,” Hanlon said. “I found freedom to grow and learn here at the DI, and that as been the best part.”
Long before he found his way to the DI, Hanlon served in the military with his five brothers during the Vietnam War. It was during this time that Hanlon said he learned to find joy in the small things. Whether it was bicycle kicks in the air as he jumped out of airplanes or being proud of his comrades, Hanlon said you have to sometimes create happiness out of little things.
Hanlon’s coworker Zack Adams said he loves watching the magic tricks.
“The crowd goes so quiet when he starts and then they start gasping, clapping, and some even cheer,” Adams said.
Adams said Hanlon goes the extra mile to make customers feel comfortable and enjoy their visit. There are customers who come back and make special requests to the DI Wizard for tricks they want to see again and again.
“When I do a magic trick and they enjoy it, I enjoy it,” Hanlon said.
Deseret Industries is a nonprofit thrift store and part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Welfare Services.