Meridian Underground Music

 

Meridian, Mississippi

meridianundergroundmusic.com

MUM’s the word in Meridian, Mississippi. Located in the East Central part of the state, Meridian is a quiet town — except for when there’s a concert on the sidewalk outside of Meridian Underground Music. Owner Wayne Williams isn’t completely sure, but he figures that with more than twenty years in the books, his smoke shop is likely the oldest in the state.

“A lot of people call MUM an institution, but the only institution I can think of is an insane asylum,” says Williams, who opened the business in 1996.

Williams was in his early twenties when he sacrificed his collection of compact discs to start the venture. CDs were new technology at the time and Williams idea was to offer customers of his for two of theirs. Knowing that to build a sustainable business, he needed to diversify, so he added skateboards, lava lamps, tapestries, “tobacco” pipes, detox and other counter culture items. Music remained at the root of the business. Bands regularly play out front and in the back of the shop is a recording studio. A local guitar marker also created a line of custom cigar box guitars that hang on the wall.

As MUM’s popularity grew, customers began hanging out at the shop. Williams initially shoed them away after they’d done their shopping, but as he got to know the regulars, he realized there was a need for a safe place in town for them to go. So he added video games, billiards, tabletop role-playing games, free popcorn and even a signature coffee blend.

“It’s just a really neat feeling when it all comes together,” Williams says. “I want all five senses covered. And if we have a sixth sense, I want that covered too. When somebody walks in the door, I want incense burning, I want everything looking groovy and cool; I don’t want everything all prim and proper, like a big box store. We try to amplify any pleasure we can out of any of the senses.”

Smoke shop stuff is kept in locked cabinets where it’s inaccessible to anybody under 21. Remember, this is the Bible Belt where until recently townsfolk looked down on those who drank, smoked or looked the least bit different. Mississippi is still a holdout where legalized marijuana is concerned although allowing it for medicinal purposes is on the legislature ballot.

“Early on, there was a little fuss. I would hear from people that their preacher told them not to shop with us, and that we were a bad place because we carried products for smoking and other things that weren’t right in their eyes,” Williams says. “It used to really hurt my feelings that somebody wouldn’t shop with us because we carry one or two items that they don’t like,” he adds, “but yet they go to Walmart or a dollar store that sells stuff that can be used for alternative purposes.”

With the help of wife Stacey and three kids, Williams has earned the trust of the community. MUM regularly participates in charity events, fans show their support by wearing MUM branded apparel, and the staff are proud to say there’s more to working here than just making a buck.

“They’ve always said, “Thank you for hiring me,’” Williams says. “To them, this is a dream job because they get to be a part of making something happen.”

“I really enjoy being able to grow the idea of a positive environment in an alternative lifestyle in the world where I live,” Williams says. “I think that the education is helping change people. I see less racism, fewer gender issues and less hatred than ever before.”

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Print
Email

Recent Articles

Top Products of 2022

EZJ Legendary Stash Boxes By EZJ For the true aficionado with discriminating tastes and a penchant for the handcrafted comes the Legendary Stash Box series from the maker of the now-famous EZJ rolling machine. Each unit is handcrafted from oak and pinion, upcycled untreated pallets and exotic hardwoods such as teak mahogany and perlotta, intricately

Read More »

Retailers Guide to Establishing an Annual Budget

Creating an annual budget is crucial to running a successful and profitable retail business. A budget helps you set both short and long term business goals and enables smart decision-making to achieve those goals. You’ll also be in a better position to proactively manage your finances, setting you up for profitability, sustainability, and exponential growth.

Read More »

Retailer Holiday Planning: 5 Tips to Drive Holiday Sales

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest shopping season of the year. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers in the U.S. spent $886.7 billion during the 2021 holiday season — and the total is expected to be even higher in 2022 as consumer demand continues to rise. With Black Friday, Small Business

Read More »

Gearing Up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

How to Make the Most of the Year’s Biggest Spending Frenzy Even before Black Friday became the biggest shopping day of the year, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been a pivotal time for retailers. After all, the day after Thanksgiving signals the start of the Christmas shopping season. Eventually, retailers began offering

Read More »

How to Attract Holiday Shoppers with Gift Cards

With that in mind, we introduce you to our newest feature: You Asked, HQ Answered. And being that this is unofficially our holiday issue, we thought what better time to answer a few questions about gift cards.  Who doesn’t love gift cards? When you consider how hard it is to buy a present for friends

Read More »

Social Media

Most Recent

Are you 18 or older?