Whether it’s a wind-up butterfly you stick in a card to surprise someone for their birthday or a deck of cards for your favorite trick, the Jest For Fun Joke Shop in downtown Waukesha has been able to provide magic tricks and jokes to the Waukesha community for 50 years.
The shop recently reached its 50-year anniversary on May 19 and has plans to celebrate the milestone this year.
The Joke Shop was first started by Don Lamb, who opened the shop on May 19, 1972, in downtown Waukesha on Gaspar Street before moving within a year to where Martha Merrell’s Books & Toys is located now.
Lamb owned the shop for approximately five and a half years before Jeff Campbell took over the Joke Shop, moving to Broadway and then to 265 W. Main St., where the shop is currently.
Campbell owned the shop for 37 years before the business was taken over by current owner Jonathan Archimede in 2015.
The store has always been family-friendly.
“Who would have ever thought that when we started it would last 50 years? There are probably not many stores downtown that are 50 years old now, ”Lamb said.
Campbell, who worked with Archimede for a few years after he took over the shop, said the anniversary is wonderful and incredible.
“Against all expectations of a lot of people it is a landmark in Waukesha,” he said. “Everyone seemed to know where it was and it’s a good, clean family fun image that we’ve maintained, which is important.”
Archimede started going to the shop when he was about 10 years old. Archimede said the shop needed a “younger spin” on it, resulting in him utilizing social media and creating an online store. In addition, the store added Pokemon cards, which has amounted to almost half of the business’ revenue every month, he said.
“My first year was OK – we had nothing, no road construction, no pandemic, no nothing, but every year since then has been road construction, pandemic, a whole bunch of stuff,” Archimede said. “And we’re still here – we survived all of the stuff that can interfere with a business, which is really cool.”
Over the years, Archimede said the fake dog poop is still the # 1 seller, although, due to the supply chain, Archimede is making his own. The shop also sells other classics, such as whoopee cushions and hand buzzers.
Archimede said customers often feel nostalgic in the shop, with many remembering their experiences of shopping at the Joke Shop over the years or reminiscing on an old joke or prank when they see familiar merchandise. In addition, the shop is sometimes a safe haven for local kids.
“This store has never really been about making a profit, it’s about making people happy and good, light fun,” Archimede said. “Especially with today’s society of political correctness and other junk that’s going on in the world, you can come here, have fun, take a joke home with you, see some magic tricks and kind of forget about other stuff going on outside.”
Archimede said the shop is planning on celebrating the anniversary at the July 22 Friday Night Live. He is hoping to have the world’s largest balloon sword fight.
“It’s not a Guinness World Records thing or anything, but it’s one of those things that someone did with 300 people and I was like, eh, we could probably beat 300 people for Friday Night Live,” he said.
However, he is still checking with law enforcement on those plans. Either way, Archimede ensures that there will be something with balloons and magic shows.
To learn more, visit: www.facebook.com/Jest-ForFunJokeShop.