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Do you ever walk past a storefront on your way to work or on a leisurely Saturday afternoon stroll and think about how that particular place manages to stay in business? There are storefronts I walk past every day that are a revolving door for businesses.
One week it’s a poke bowl spot the next week it’s a mediterranean grill. I’ve seen many a business go belly up, but the one type of place that has always had staying power is the smoke shop. I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around how one becomes the owner and operator of a smoke shop.
For too long I’ve been stumped as to how smoke shops (also commonly referred to as head shops) stay in business so now I’m posing the question to the people. I’m not talking about cigar stores right now. I can understand how a place like that stays afloat. But whenever I see a head shop out in the wild it reminds me a little bit of a really sad carnival.
There are at least five flashing neon signs advertising for various smoking related products in every smoke shops front window. There’s usually a poster of a girl in a bikini in the front window as well, probably an advertising tactic that the owner of the store thinks is going to sell more vape rigs.
Rolling papers, glass “tobacco” pipes that create cool designs the longer you go without cleaning resin from them, Juul pod refills, and batteries for vaporizers – you can find all of that stuff and more inside of a head shop.
But outside of the stoner who needs to re-up on blunt wraps who is keeping these places afloat? Personally I don’t have much use for smoke shops. And I don’t think most other people do either. They remind of those mattress stores that seem to be everywhere – nobody really knows how or why they are where they are or who frequents them. A majority of the time those mattress places are devoid of any customers just like the smoke shops.
There’s always two guys behind the counters of these places just watching television and shooting the shit with an empty store full of stuff that will probably never get sold.
Here in Chicago, you can’t walk 500 feet in one direction without going past one and I’m sure it’s like that in other places as well.
In NYC I could maybe see how you could turn a profit because a lot of the smoke shops there fall under the blanket term “bodega”, where a variety of other goods are sold. But in Chicago? Los Angeles? KC? Austin? Are these places a front for something more sinister going on? I doubt it. Although I will say that the mattress store conspiracy definitely has legs. Are these places just changing ownership and keeping the name and I don’t notice? Am I the only one who thinks this is odd? Is K2 still a thing?
These smoke shops are peddling stuff that does not require people to keep coming back for more. It just seems like a bad business investment, and yet I see one on every corner of every neighborhood in the city. You can’t pay the rent by selling 40 dollar pipes to twenty somethings and you certainly can’t afford to pay a staff. It just really boggles the mind. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night..
Image via Youtube