“There’s a definite advantage to aligning your store with recognizable brands, not to mention unique brands that you can’t find just anywhere,” says Howard Franklin, who fills that need as founder and CEO of West Coast Gifts.
Franklin introduced the cannabis community to color changing glass back in the early nineties when people were smoking primarily from pipes made of wood or metal. When he first encountered chameleon-like glass while following the Grateful Dead, he knew he was on to something new and exciting — not only from a “Wow! Factor,” but also because glass is a cleaner way to smoke.
“People really like glass, because when you smoke out of it, it gives you the flavor of what you’re smoking,” Franklin says. “Glass is amazing, and there always something new and exciting you can do with it. As a medium it’s only been around about a hundred years, and artists are still exploring it’s possibilities.”
Franklin’s first brand — Cameleon Glass — was a hit coast to coast. Eventually, Franklin, sold the business, and followed a newfound love to Vancouver, Canada where he rekindled his pipe dreams with Red Eye Glass, colorful glass smoking accessories, and Gear Premium, expertly engineered bongs and oil rigs that represented Canada’s first scientific glass pipe brand. Following on the popularity of these new brands, and with growing respect for Franklin’s high attention to customer service, he launched West Coast Gifts, building a catalog of the best products from many of the top cannabis industry brands.
With 5,000 SKUs, West Coast Gifts is Canada’s most inclusive wholesaler/distributor and a true one-stop-source of cannabis related products and accessories. Among the well-known brands they represent are, Arizer, Atmos, 420 Science, Beamer Candles, Bello Vaporizers, Blazer torches, Boldtbags, Boundless Vaporizers, Davinci, Doob Toobs, Dr. Dabber, Dynavap, Earthly Body, Firefly, Grenco Science, Kasher, Kushkone, Moose Labs, My Bud Vase, Newport Torches, Pulsar, Resolution Glass Cleaner, RYOT, Skillittools, Smoke Odor Candles, Storz & Bickel, TOQi, Vatra, V-Syndicate, White Rhino, XVAPE, and Yocan. WCG is also the exclusive Canadian distributor for LIT Silicone, My Dabmat, Rockit Vaporizers, Dab-Bot, Puffco Vaporizers, and Summerland Ceramic Smokeware.
“When we opened in 2003, a lot of our Canadian customers had just one small shop, and by having so much inventory on hand, and continually offering new products, we were able to support those retailers and help them grow their businesses,” Franklin says.
Franklin didn’t forget about his roots, though, continuing to bring innovative glass products to stores in the States with West Coast Gifts’ in-house brands, Red Eye Tek, GEAR Premium Sidekick, Red Eye Glass, and Cheech & Chong Glass.
“We picked this product selection for the U.S. because it’s unique, quality items at affordable prices that you can’t find elsewhere,” Franklin says.
“Being in the industry for 30 years, I know what works,” Franklin adds — that goes as much for packaging as it does for the aesthetic and function of the designs.
The Red Eye Tek collection includes straight and hex style bubblers that are truly functional works of art. Every Red Eye Tek bong is built to last because they are made exclusively from 100% borosilicate glass. Their Red Eye Tek Terminator metallic finish can only be achieved through proprietary techniques, which makes them a unique brand in a sea of generic competitors.
GEAR Premium featuring downstem water pipes with beaker bases are admired for high-performance and sleek, minimalistic designs. One of the most unique — and Franklin’s personal favorite, which he refers to as the “Porsche of bongs,” is the GEAR Premium Sidekick, a bong with a built-in lighter holder. The Sidekick package also includes a GEAR branded lighter, keychain and t-shirt.
“I have a love for the glass, and I like coming up with creative designs and turning them into products that will sell well for our customers,” Franklin says. “It’s great to get emails from customers that have had one of our pipes for 10+ years and have had so many good times with it that it’s become like a member of their family.”
“With glass, we do our best to make sure that every type of pipe is represented,” Franklin adds.
It’s one thing to bring a new glass line to the market. It’s a much heavier task to create a glass line that’s influenced and approved by two of the most famous stoners of all time. West Coast Gifts has risen to the challenge, teaming with Cheech & Chong to create a collectable line of glass hand pipes, water pipes and bubblers that have proven successful both in sales and creativity.
At West Coast Gifts, they don’t just slap a few decals on their glass and all of a sudden it’s Cheech & Chong’s signature line. Franklin proudly states that West Coast Gifts is the only company licensed by BOTH Cheech and Chong, and the iconic counter-culture comedy duo are involved with product design. Most of the products come with names inspired by scenes in Cheech & Chong’s movies or comedy routines including Blind Melon Chitlin (12” tube), Basketball Jones (Chillax slanted tube with built-in lighter magnet) and the Labrador (a hand pipe modeled after the huge joint made famous in “Up in Smoke”).
The packaging is another reason that fans and collectors are drawn to Cheech & Chong Glass. The water pipes and rigs come packaged with leather tie-dye boxes and certificates of authenticity. The hand pipes come with tie-dye pouches for storage and protection with the Cheech & Chong logo on them.
“We’re always on the lookout for quality products,” Franklin says. “Our team of designers and sales specialists have extensive product knowledge, and we personally test all the products to ensure that they function properly and will be good sellers for our customers.”
“It’s awesome to be part of an industry that’s becoming more of a legitimate and lucrative enterprise every day,” Franklin adds. “There are people who supported us in the beginning, who we’re still doing business with today, and it’s great to be a part of their continued success!”