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Canna Aid

The Periphery

7 Offbeat Items to Expand Your Reach

Unlike the ubiquitous vape shops that spawn like flies, headshops aren’t cookie-cutter operations. They do more than dole out smoking devices and accessories. As equal parts hobby shop and curiosity cabinet, a headshop isn’t just a store; it’s a vibe.

For most owners, taking the safe route won’t cut it. Customers don’t want sterile efficiency. They can pick up Delta 8 pens and one-hitters from the corner Kwik-E-Mart. They come to a headshop to be dazzled. They come for product advice from an aging hippie. They come for that feeling you get when incense, old records, and a cashier with face piercings intersect. Coming to a headshop is a life-affirming experience. 

Victoria’s Secret launched an empire by creating lingerie stores that made customers feel sexy instead of seedy. Headshops should follow suit, guiding consumers to celebrate a lifestyle that’s always been more mainstream than society tells us.

If your store needs a jolt, here are 7 items to stock that can help attract new customers and expand your appeal:

1

Vinyl

Cultivate Appreciation

Records never went out of style. Since the advent of cassettes, pressed wax has lingered around the edges of pop culture. For music appreciators, the impracticality of vinyl is a feature—not a bug. Owning an LP is a kind of shibboleth, a signal to other insiders that one’s musical appreciation goes deeper than the ephemeral nature of a Spotify playlist.

With fewer music stores around today, music fans have limited ways to procure their wares. Head Shops have become a logical choice for record hunters. They find real joy in rifling through a stack of vinyl and discovering a gem in the rough. Consider adding both new and used options to enhance the experience.

2

Funky Snacks

Entice Palates

Nearly every retail outlet, from the gas station to the toy store, stocks impulse buys next to the cash register. It’s simply a tactic that works.

For head shops, it pays to offer a funky variety. Not only does this contribute to the sense of wonder that every good headshop creates, stocking specialty snacks can lead to droves of repeat business for customers who just can’t find their preferred munchies anywhere else.

Wholesalers like Exotic Soda Company can help you fill your counter with far-flung goodies to pique palates and satisfy cravings. Options like matcha fig Oreos from China, potato chips flavored like scallops from Thailand, and elderflower-and-lemon Fanta from Germany encourage experimentation and remind customers that the world is a big, yummy place.

Image of Unique Snacks
3

Adult Toys

Ignite Passion

Part of the appeal of a head shop is that it’s a place specifically not for children. Lean into that mindset by embracing the cultural taboo around naughty fun.

Let’s be honest: weed and sex go together like, well, weed and sex. Today’s soccer parents aren’t only looking for a hit of CBD to relieve stress. Many couples turn to weed to re-ignite their passions. Make the adult toys a typical part of the experience, and customers won’t feel weird buying them.

Adult Toys Product Image
4

Outdoor Games

Expand Horizons

There’s a paradox to smokers. They want to be outside, but they don’t want to be active. Ergo: stoner games.

If the Olympics were composed of pot smokers (other than Michael Phelps), the most-watched events would be hacky sack, disc golf, corn hole, and bocce ball. Stock up on these activity sets, and you’ll soon be a go-to place for summer fun.

Frisbee Outdoor Games Image
5

Indoor Games

Foster Connection

We live in a golden age of board games. An entire generation has grown up believing in the social nature of tabletop gaming.

Even better: Many titles are geared toward cannabis enthusiasts. For the couch-locked crew, this is pure catnip. Titles like “Suddenly Stoned,” “Yo Cannabis Comedy,” and “Stonerland” are low-cost party supplies for customers who want to be social without leaving the house. But even more traditional board games, like the always-hilarious “Cards Against Humanity” and “Secret Hitler” carry the promise of transforming giggly smoke sessions into laugh-out-loud riots.

Image of Games for Play Indoors
6

Clothing

Stimulate Fashion

Remember: You’re not competing against Saks Fifth Avenue. Your goal when selling clothing should be to offer your customers something funky and unique. If you don’t plan on installing fitting rooms, keep your garment choices simple: band shirts, weed-slogan tees, hoodies, stoner-themed socks, and handkerchiefs are items that are easy to stock, display, and sell.

Clothing Products Image in Headshop
7

Crystals

Inspire Magic

There’s something about rocks and gems that draws a crowd. From geode bookends to heart-shaped pendants, consumers like the tactile feeling and earth-drawn powers that crystals carry.

Put a few next crystals (with explanatory cards) next to your incense and watch how they fly off the shelves. If they do well, the possibilities to expand this area are limitless.

Image of Crystal Products in Smokeshop

2 Tips from an O.G.

Mitch Kirsner spent 35 years in the industry. He got his start selling used goods at a flea market and worked his way up to a 6,600-square-foot shop that became the de facto headquarters for the counter-cultural set of Newport News, Virginia.

Even after shuttering, the name Fantasy is still invoked by locals, who recall the owner’s quirky sensibility with a twinge of pre-pandemic nostalgia.

He boils his success down to two ideas.

The first rule is simple: Listen to your customers.

“I had a policy that if I got a request for an item three times, I’d do what I could to get it,” Kirsner said.

But his real genius was in how he viewed expansion. Instead of looking at the customers he had, he thought about the types who never darkened his door.

“I saw that most of my customers were teenage and older guys. And I thought that I need to get more women in here. So, I added dresses and Manic Panic hair dye, and that brought in more people there,” he said. “Then I looked around and saw that we didn’t have many Black customers. So, I started talking more with the Black customers we did have because I wanted to include them, and I bought things they needed. Then I thought we should appeal to older people, so I added New Age stuff, like rocks and crystals and Tarot cards and essential oils.”

“With any one of those items, it might’ve been hard to attract new folks,” he said. “But when we had everything together, it really brought in a variety of customers over the years.” 

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