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Smoke Shop History

Smoke Shop industry history

Specialty Tobacco shops, commonly known as "smoke shops”, are found in shopping centers or downtown business areas. American head shops originated in the 1960s in cities with high concentrations of college-age youth, often growing out of independently owned poster or candle stores. Tobacco makers have always sponsored these smaller shops as they are important outlets to sell their products.

The quantity of tobacco stands diminished relentlessly in the United States amid the last half of the twentieth century. The Decreases were largely due to a change in the way of life for some Americans as organizations moved out of the downtown zones and urban areas where demand for smoke shops was high. Although the number of shops drastically decreased in the 1990’s, other states, such as Montana and Washington D.C, have reported an increase in successful smoke-shops. The largest cluster of independent smoke shops can be found in the Southern region of the United States, with 1,516 shops reported. A large portion of the smoke shops located in shopping centers in the 1970s gradually vanished in the 1980s as rents climbed excessively, making it hard for small businesses to survive.  In addition to rapidly changing downtown areas, the health effects of smoking played a significant role in the decline of shops.  

During this time, many large chain stores added a variety of smoking products, making it harder for independent shops to survive. Wholesalers reported that a large portion of the tobacco shops lost deals to separate less exclusive retail outlets, including pharmacies, grocery stores and big-box retailers. Markdown retail chains and general stores quickly took over a large portion of the Tobacco business.  The familiarity of these chain shops and lower prices, shifted consumers away from more traditional, independent Tobacco shops.

Toward the end of the 1990’s, many of these stores decreased their Tobacco business as health concerns and media coverage made smoking much less popular. In 1997, a large number of big-box retailers joined the movement and advanced in an opposite direction from the tobacco business in light of endeavors by the U.S. government to regulate the tobacco business. The FDA—sponsored by President Bill Clinton—passed a few regulations pushing this along. One of these regulations mandates stricter ID checks at stores, which further tightened up the Tobacco industry.

Today smoke shops still exist but have dwindled since the baby boomer generation of the 60's aged and moved on to more mainstream retail endeavors. The online market for smoke shops offers a better value, selection, price and availability.  To truly choose the best, please visit Visit a smoke shop without leaving the comfort of your couch.         

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