Smoke Shop Woes

Andrea Garcia


My first memory of going into a smoke shop is a cringey one. I recall sitting in my first car on my 18th birthday, and all I really wanted was to get high then munch out on some drive-through bean and cheese tacos. I’m a simple gal.

Smoking with my friends had recently become a fun habit of ours, yet I had never felt confident enough to do it on my own. However being 18 makes you feel some type of way so I thought ‘fuck it, treat yourself, you're a grown ass woman now’ or something like that. That is until I pulled into the parking lot, and that gross sweaty feeling of anticipation washed over me since It dawned on me I didn't really know anything about buying smoking accessories. (Truthfully I had only smoked out of apples and homemade pieces sooo this was a big step up.) But here goes nothing right?I walked into the dark shop, a large puff of awful grape candy smelling smoke immediately hit my face. The source of the smoke is a weird white guy
lounging behind the counter aggressively vaping while looking as unwelcoming as possible. Following the abrasive smoke is an awkward silence until we exchanged forced greetings while I ventured further in & browsed the array of boring phallic shaped pipes laying behind the glass counter. Uh and was that really Eminem playing from the shop speakers?

Fuck dude…

After briefly window shopping it seemed my limited options ranged from small crack pipe looking objects in neon colors to expensive glass pieces that looked too intricate for me to use as a new smoker. Also what the fuck is with all these passive agressive signs about “water pipes”,and why can't i say bong in this place?? I had so many questions yet I wasn't sure how to approach them as the bored looking dude’s eyes followed me around from behind his phone screen. “I want to buy a pipe”, I hesitantly stated, so in response he lazily pointed me over to their small collection of “cute/feminine looking” pipes in pinks, pastels, and glittery hues which were obviously the only pipes in the shop aimed at women.Ok I guess these would work? I picked a cheap one out then finally left feeling accomplished for getting the last tool needed in my quest to get stoned, but still slightly confused- even a tad embarrassed for not feeling as welcomed as I had hoped i’d be. 
Four years have passed & still not much has changed in the world of head shops since my first experience.Obviously not everyone has uncomfortable experiences like this when shopping for smoking accessories, but most head shops me/my female friends in San Antonio have journeyed into are overwhelmingly male run, unwelcoming, and still smell and look a bit like some dudes cluttered hazy apartment.Yikes.
Anyone can smoke weed, and everyone should feel comfortable enough to explore cannabis as a natural aid for improving their lives.But environments like the cliché bro-only feeling head shop halt the newly growing acceptance of cannabis smoking in its tracks since they readily support an outdated image of what cannabis culture is. Imagine your neighborhood smoke shop taking your interest in cannabis usage as seriously as a popular clothing brand takes in it’s audience’s style/demands. Attention to aesthetic, product quality, and inclusive customer service create a successful store environment that more smoke shops need to embrace. I can't wait for the day me & my friends can go bong shopping, and it feels like a bougie shopping spree and not an annoyance as you have to navigate around some guy in sandals vaping in your face. I don't think that day is far off though.


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