Now in his 40s, Shifflett performs magic shows for small audiences almost every other weekend at his Pocahontas County home.
He practices for hours to prepare for the shows, which consist of mental tricks, sleight of hand, card tricks and the like.
Chet and his wife, Kelly, moved back to his hometown, Marlinton, in 2000 after Kelly finished photography school. They opened Picket Fence Photos on Main Street. At the time, it was the only photography studio the town had seen since the 1970s.
In 2005, they moved the studio to the front room of their restored 110 year-old home. Two years later, they purchased an adjacent home as a place to expand their interests. The home now holds the Magic Parlour, as well as a fine art gallery featuring Kelly's work and a gift shop.
The Magic Parlour is designed to serve as an intimate space where neighbors and friends can gather to enjoy a weekend show. The bistro style tables and candlelight provide a mysterious setting while still keeping the onlooker connected to the performer. The Parlour seats about 12, but Shifflett has been known to also perform at the local opera house.
Eventually, Chet and Kelly would like to see the Magic Parlour doing three or four shows a weekend. Shifflett plans on changing the shows every couple of weeks -- or more often if the demand is there.
The last show he performs is always his favorite. He also admits that the applause, whether from five people or 400 people, is a high that can't be replicated.
"Whether it's a 10-year-old kid or a 40 year-old-man, the moment that you do something and their mind can't comprehend it ... That's one of the things that inspires me."
The "West Virginia Uncovered" project was created to cultivate online innovation and storytelling among the Mountain State's community newspapers.
For the last two years, students from the WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism have crisscrossed the back roads and small towns of West Virginia, working with about a dozen weekly newspapers and looking for untold stories. In addition, the participating newspapers receive training in online and multimedia journalism at WVU. The West Virginia Uncovered project is supported by grants from the McCormick Foundation, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Ford Foundation.