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How to open a headshop

Updated April 17, 2017

Head shops sell a variety of tobacco related paraphernalia for smokers, though many of their products are also traditionally used to smoke marijuana and other drugs. These products include glass pipes, water pipes or bongs, vaporisers and rolling papers, which are all items that can be used to smoke just about anything, but are technically meant for smoking tobacco. This puts them in a legal grey area, according to startupbizhub.com. Different municipalities have different rules about what is required to open a head shop, like not opening them too close to schools or supermarkets. However, with the spread of medical marijuana legalisation, head shops are becoming more common and can operate like any other small retail business, as long as they sell to only customers over the age of 18.

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  1. Select a location after raising start-up capital. As head shops sell pipes to smokers who must be over the age of 18, choose a location which is far away from schools, malls or any other places where minors will be regularly present and tempted to wander inside. Consider a location which is near a college campus, a video store or electronics store which sells video games or a district of town which has a large number of bars.

  2. Establish a connection with talented glass blowers who can make a wide variety of reliable glass pipes for you to sell. Strike deals with bong-making companies, vaporiser manufacturers and other companies which make pipes and tobacco-related paraphernalia. Make sure all these suppliers are reputable and not violating the law in any way with the products they make. Figure out how much money you can spend on your inventory and check the prices of the products of other head shops in the area. This way you will know how much to price your own inventory to make money and stay competitive.

  3. Obtain a tobacco license to sell cigarettes, cigars and rolling papers, which can greatly increase the sales revenue of the head shop. There are different rules and regulations per state for tobacco licenses. The fees vary from state to state, as well. Fill out the proper forms, pay the applicable fees and after being approved by the state, post the necessary signs on the wall of the head shop. Doing so helps you avoid fines or the risk of losing your license.

  4. Outfit glass display cases with small lights and soft felt on the shelves. Make sure the glass is clean and free of any smudges or dirt. Lay pipes out on this felt on each shelf so that customers can see them clearly and pick the ones they want. Install shelves along the walls for pipes, cigarettes and other products for customers to see clearly. Consider placing a few of these display cases in the head shop's store front window so that these products will catch the eye of people passing by.

  5. Advertise your head shop in the local alternative paper, college newsletter, on the radio or at a concert, where smokers will be reading, listening or in attendance. Getting the word out about your head shop and why it is better then any other head shop in town is as important as buying inventory and picking a good location for the store itself.

  6. Tip

    Offer deals on pipes and other products to draw customers into the store. Try to come up with a funny or clever name for your head shop like "Pipe Palace" or "The Smoke Stack." This name will be memorable and stick in the minds of customers.


    Make sure to I.D. everyone who looks under age who enters the store and I.D. everyone who purchases pipes and tobacco products to ensure they are over the age of 18. If your head shop happens to sell tobacco or tobacco products to a minor (someone under the age of 18) you can be fined or have your tobacco license taken away. This may cost you a large amount of money and possibly cause your head shop to be shut down.

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Things You'll Need

  • Storefront
  • Display cases
  • Pipe inventory
  • Tobacco license

About the Author

Irving Oala

Irving Oala began writing professionally in 2007. He writes for various websites when he is not writing screenplays and short stories. He is also a huge sports fan and automobile enthusiast and always tries to fix broken items or devices around the house on his own.

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