A tobacconist, also called a tobacco shop, a “tobacconist’s shop” or a smoke shop, is a retailer of tobacco products in various forms and the related accoutrements, such as pipes, lighters, matches, pipe cleaners, pipe tampers. More specialized retailers might sell: ashtrays, humidification devices, hygrometers, humidors, cigar cutters, and more. Books and magazines, especially ones related to tobacco are commonly offered. Items irrelevant to tobacco such as puzzles, games, figurines, hip flasks, walking sticks, and confectionery are sometimes sold.
Traditionally, a tobacconist shop in the United States is represented by a wooden Indian located nearby. Most tobacco retailers sell other types of products; today, supermarkets, in many countries with a special counter, are usually the main sellers of common cigarette brands. In the United Kingdom, a common combination of small corner shops has been a news agency selling newspapers and magazines, as well as confectionery and tobacco. In the UK, this sector is referred to as ‘CONTOB’ (‘confectionery and tobacco’).
Why is a Smoke Shop called a Headshop?
While the word “headshop” may have found its way back to popular vocabulary, the origin of the term may still seem elusive and confusing. Some claim that “head” is actually an acronym for “He Eats Acid Daily.” Others may refer to a popular nickname for Grateful Dead fans; dead heads. More than likely, however, the term actually found its seeds in a slang that originated in 1913. This year marks the first documentation of someone who pairs the name of the drug with the word “head” to denote the subject as an addict.In the ’60s, when acid heads and pot heads became a pronounced aspect of American counterculture, headshops seemed to cater to those who wanted to improve their experience. The song “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane repeats the line “feed your head” at the end of the song; a challenge for the listener to expand his mind. Essentially, the mission of the headshop was to help its clients “feed their heads.”
The Role Served by the Local Headshop
Headshops started out as shops specializing in the sale of drug paraphernalia. You could count on your local headshop to carry all sorts of goodies to keep your intoxication at its optimum, from water pipes and rolling paper to psychedelic visual aids and incense. The drugs themselves, of course, were not part of the headshop ‘s inventory. In fact, federal and state laws have often found headshops skirting violations through pure creativity. In order to create the impression that the glass pipes and water pipes decorating the headshop shelves were definitely not intended for use with drugs, some incriminating words were prohibited from being used in the store.Uttering one of these suggestive words would often buy you an immediate ejection from the headshop or, in severe cases, a permanent ban.
In states that have yet to legalize marijuana, this ban on vocabulary is still in full effect. Headshops also became important points of counter-cultural support in the late 1960s, providing a safe haven for the distribution of underground publications that questioned authority or promoted esoteric spiritual practices. This political poignancy has gradually been watered down. By the ’90s, the headshop aesthetics had been co-opted. You could walk into a shopping mall to buy your tie-dyed Bob Marley t-shirt, a smiley black light poster, and a Che Guevara glass shot. The revolution had been sold for a long time, and the need for headshops was no longer so immediate.
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