(Editor’s Note: Thirty-one years ago, Magic Darts & Billiards opened in Sacramento, CA. In 2014, it moved into a new 11,000 square foot facility in town. Through its A-Z Darts.com website, the company is the largest online darts distributor in the United States. And for more than 20 years, Magic/A-Z Darts has been a fixture as NDA’s darts and dart supplies vendor at Team Dart).
NDA: Kelly, tell us a bit about yourself—where you grew up and live now…and your family. Besides work, any hobbies or interests?
KELLY: I was born in Southern California. At age 8, we moved to Sedalia, MO, about an hour and a half from Kansas City, which is where I grew up. While serving in the Air Force, my ex-husband and I were transferred to Northern California. About 27 years ago, I began working at the local dart store-Magic Darts & Billiards, owned by John (Baxter, her husband).. I have been in Sacramento ever since. I still have family in both Central MO and Northern CA. When I’m not working, John and I like to eat out, shop and travel. That’s where I started to play darts.
NDA: How and when did you start playing darts?
KELLY: Back in the late 80s-early 1990s, soft-tip was not popular yet. So steel tip was the game. It was something fun and cheap to do on a military income. I was never great at darts, but had fun! Mid to late 90s, I had moved into soft tip. The games go faster for sure-even more fun to play. One of the first soft tip leagues I played in an NDA sanctioned league. I played with John, who was ranked as high as number 8 in the world (in steel tip). A very fond memory of that time – we played at Team Dart together.
I served on the board for the steel tip dart association in the Sacramento area. That’s where I met John. I enjoyed playing, but never brought a fierce competitive drive to it. For me, it was all about the fun and social aspect.
NDA: How did Magic Darts develop?
KELLY: In the early days, our store was about 1,200 square feet and we only sold retail. As darts grew in Sacramento, so did we. John made connections with manufacturers across the country and in the U.K. We also had a lathe at the store and we made our own darts. The more our stock grew we were able to sell to other wholesalers. John was known as “the Magic Man” because he would wear sparkly shirts and generated attention when he played- which was good for the sport and for business.
NDA: What do you like most about darts?
KELLY: I like that it’s always evolving. While some elements stay the same, there is such a variety. There are darts and supplies that fit everybody. And I also like to go to tournaments, even as a spectator. I love the comradery.
NDA: What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to experience as being affiliated with the dart industry?
KELLY: Travel. My favorite thing to do is to travel. We’ve been to New Zealand to visit our vendor, Shot. We also attend a convention every year to learn about new product. This convention is held in different cities around the US, which has allowed us to check out places we would not usually travel to.
NDA: If you could pick one person who you would like to play with or against in a game of darts, who would it be (can be anyone!) and why?
KELLY: Well, I’d like to play with Jose Justicia Perales. He’s pretty cool and seems like he’d be fun to play a game with. I would probably learn something too. I’m not sure who I’d like to play against-no one comes to mind.
NDA: Since the time you first got involved in darts, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen to the game?
KELLY: The popularity swing from steel tip to soft tip and the popularity of folded flights to molded flights.
NDA: One of the tough decisions made by the NDA board recently was the cancellation of Team Dart, which would have been conducted earlier this month. Your thoughts on this?
KELLY: I was super sad. Personally, for John and I, we were both really looking forward to it. We had a lot of plans in place—from the players’ skills clinic which is near and dear to John and the apparel to the dart and supplies booth—it was going to be special.
We’ve been with NDA for about 20 years, and we were event players before that. It’s unique and because it’s one of our longest-running events we work, it’s one of our favorites. We see a lot of players and customers and have gotten to know them there. It’s a great opportunity for us to learn about the market and what our customers want.
NDA: What have you and your family been doing to get through these challenging (Covid) times? What’s a typical day like for you?
KELLY: (laughs) Well, I’m behind on my paperwork, so I’m always working on that. I’m answering emails, helping out with the day-to-day business needs and customer outreach. I’m spending eight hours at my desk at home. My cat and dogs hang with me in the office. I’m thinking of putting up a dartboard. John and I have been hanging out and eating a lot of meals together. I’m really into cereal right now!
NDA: No one has a playbook on this, but what is your outlook during the next
6 to 9 months?
KELLY: I’m not sure, but I worry about leagues and the business model of people gathering to play as they always have. COVID has instilled a lot of fears and it’s hard to say when those will go away.
NDA: What is your favorite…
Movie: Money Pit
Music or band: Soft and hard rock, but Queen is probably my favorite
TV show: Anything that has an empowering female role. I’m catching up on All Rise and NCIS New Orleans right now.
Things to do in Vegas (besides playing or working dart tourneys): I have family there, so that’s something I always look forward to, and we like to do a little gambling. We like to plan at least one dinner at a fancy restaurant there, like Gordon Ramsey’s at Paris.
NDA: Anything else to add?
KELLY: When is this lock-down going to end? New Orleans is calling my name. I think NOLA is the place for my October birthday trip. Can’t wait! Wanna meet us there?
Published April 29, 2020