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The very first sentence of The Magic Shop by H.G.Wells, runs like this

I had seen the Magic Shop from afar several times; I had passed it once or twice ...

Then right after a few moments in the same paragraph the author writes that

I had not thought the place was there...

That's what I don't understand - how he had not thought the place was there if he had already seen The Shop several times?

The story can be accessed using the below link

(https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/wells/hg/w45tw/chapter2.html)

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More context:

I had seen the Magic Shop from afar several times; I had passed it once or twice, a shop window of alluring little objects, magic balls, magic hens, wonderful cones, ventriloquist dolls, the material of the basket trick, packs of cards that LOOKED all right, and all that sort of thing, but never had I thought of going in until one day, almost without warning, Gip hauled me by my finger right up to the window, and so conducted himself that there was nothing for it but to take him in. I had not thought the place was there, to tell the truth — a modest-sized frontage in Regent Street, between the picture shop and the place where the chicks run about just out of patent incubators, but there it was sure enough. I had fancied it was down nearer the Circus, or round the corner in Oxford Street, or even in Holborn; always over the way and a little inaccessible it had been, with something of the mirage in its position; but here it was now quite indisputably, and the fat end of Gip’s pointing finger made a noise upon the glass.

The narrator had never gone in the shop and only saw it in passing a few times. He had never really paid attention when he had seen it before, so when Gip took him there it was the first time the narrator really took note of where it was.

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