There are a few magic tricks you can perform with items you or your audience may have such as money, glasses or a box of matches. However, as your repertoire becomes more complex you will need some props or other equipment for your performance.
Magic props come in all shapes and sizes. You can build your routine around simple things like a deck of cards, small animals or balloons. You can find a few common items in the grocery such as knives, paper or sugar cubes. But eventually you'll want to search out and find a good magic shop.
Not only will you be able to get all the props and equipment you need for your performance, the magic shop is great resource for new ideas and even places to perform.
If you require custom equipment you can go also about making it yourself. In centuries past, most magicians had to build their own props and equipment. Some tricks don't require anything more than some plywood and a few tools. Also, if your props are home made you can be sure that no one else will have a trick exactly like yours.
The first piece you may want to create is your magician's table. You can custom build it with hidden compartments to assist you with tricks where objects need to disappear.
Another important, although sometimes overlooked, piece of magician's equipment is the outfit. What the magician wears can be a critical part of the performance and set the tone for the audience. Many magicians also like to have customized outfits with hidden pockets or panels to assist with tricks. Unless you have a talent for sewing you may want to consult with a local tailor to get your outfit created.
Perhaps the most common prop in magic is the deck of cards. This may seem simple but there are many different types. There are different colors, sizes, marked cards, double faced and double backed cards just to name a few. Most magic stores will have a type of deck to accommodate any tricks you might be working on but some magicians have their cards customized as well. If you do go with customized cards remember that you want them to look as much like an "ordinary" deck of cards as possible. You want the audience to believe that the magic is coming from you, not the props.
If your audience consists of a large group of children then the use of animals in your tricks is a must. Usually a white rabbit or white doves work the best. Doves are the easiest to train and rabbits don't make noise or bite. Some magic stores will carry them but you can also get them at a local pet store.
If your trick calls for you to cover something with a handkerchief, you should opt for silk rather than a cotton handkerchief. Silk adds a touch of class and they are usually larger and come in a large variety of colors.
Complex magic tricks will almost always require some equipment or props so be prepared to go shopping or head out to the garage to make them yourself. Just remember that you make the magic happen, not the props. Also remember that fancy props are no substitute for honing your skills through practice and repetition. Master your craft and the right equipment will just add the finishing touch to your professional level performance.