A typical day in my life consists of at least two trips to the smoke shop but I don’t just go and hang out in the front of the store like a modern day Silent Bob. I go and pick up what I think is going to be my daily supply of blunts, Backwoods to be exact, and I usually end up having to go back and restock on the same day. There are smoke shops that set themselves apart from others, for instance, growing up in Lake Elsinore, CA our favorite smoke shop was Blues Bros. Not only did they have a wide variety of porn, but also the nicest glass work in town, and the environment was always chill and friendly.
Since moving to Phoenix in 2006, I was still on the search for my go to smoke shop. Back then it was all new up and coming basic spots, a bank, a grocery store and a Blockbuster (Rest In Peace). All surrounded in a vast ocean of cotton and corn fields. Come 2011, Prodi and I see a Smokies Smoke Shop “Coming Soon” sign neighbouring the burrito shop. Both of us were feeling like that excited chubby kid at the candy store, you know the one. When the doors open we walked in to buy our first blunt and were treated like family from the get-go. The owners welcomed us into their shop with the light up open sign, the aroma of incense, and none other than Dr. Dre bumping through the speakers. It happened, I was finally home in The Valley of Sun. I had found my spot!
Not only is it a chill spot, they are knowledgeable on what they are selling, they set me up with a CBD vape system for my dad, and walked me through the entire process. When I was conducting the interview at Smokies, a gentleman walked in to buy CBD infused gummy candy. He said the candy aids the pain from gunshot wounds. They offer a wide variety of CBD products from Edibles, to Vape juice. I asked Jay; one of the shops employees, his take on CBD. Of course he responded enthusiastically “I gladly push that stuff, anything to help the people in a natural way!” Jay has worked for Smokies for over four years and loves learning from Tim and Terence, the owners of Smokies.
The knowledge does not stop at CBD, they also have an extensive collection of beautiful glass art. They mentioned that since they opened up, they had to learn to transition from Chinese to American glass. In the beginning they would work mostly with companies like Zong, but moved on to working with a lot of local artists. Now going to trade shows, meeting new people, and working with glass blowers not just from Arizona but worldwide! The most expensive pieces they have are a Toad and a Yoshi made by Steve Ace. My personal favorite is a cool Chester Cheetah which was made by Rude Boy. I took a mini survey of the staff’s prefered method of smoking. Concentrates dominated. It makes sense that they have a variety of nice rigs to go alongside that tangy sauce.
Tim and Tarrance come from a liquor store background. Their dad ran a store in Detroit, Michigan where the boys originally moved from. They learned the game from pops, took the skills and knowledge to open their own spot in Arizona. They made the move to the 602 to follow family members and ended up making a dream into a reality. The advice Terence has for young entrepreneurs is to just keep pushing, keep dreaming big and never quit. As soon as they opened the shop it was performing to their expectations, partially due to the fact there wasn’t anything like this around that part of town and still isn’t. Jay is a New York native and he says the biggest difference is that in NY it is still frowned upon to sell paraphernalia. He said you had to go through dark alleys to underground shops and it felt sketchy just to get a bong.
Now on to my favorite part about Smokies, the wall of blunts. It would even make Donald Trump envious, stacked from the floor to the ceiling of every blunt you can think of. They get to know their customers. I would walk in with Prodi and whoever is behind that counter didn’t even have to ask him what he was buying. They had the thing packaged with Dutch Masters and Garcia Vegas 1882, and in no time, we were in and out. I’ve been noticing a big decline in Backwoods in convenience stores across Phoenix. I asked them about it and the response was “This Backwood trend is legit taking over the world.” Then the mention of “Rare Woods” was brought up which peaked my interest. According to the guys, it’s a five pack of Backwoods, which are imported with a label in the back reading “Not Intended For Sale In The U.S.” Apparently, each pack runs about $60 and they sell like hot cakes.
No matter if your needs are smoking, vaping or dabbing, Smokies is the spot for you! Even if you’re not buying anything just go in there and shoot the shit with the guys. It’s always a blast. The vibe is always set with the dopest opus bumping, the friendliest customer service and not to mention the art work. The wall in the break room is beyond beautiful, covered in artwork created by Ben Focus. Ya’ll got to check him out! The art sets the tone apart from the shop. Colorful and fluid, the atmosphere is unparalleled. It’s a kind type of magic on the eyes when looking at all that art from the front of the store to the back. You just gotta know what you’re looking at. Smokie’s is located near 83rd Avenue & Lower Buckeye with that burrito shop still next door and now a barber shop. Get high, get fed and get faded up all in one stop! That is a lot of shops for one stop but you know how the hustle is.
To read more from Victor Ortega of Roach Clip, click here.