Vintage Portland Head Shops

Celebrate marijuana legalization with a tour the classic head shops in Portland.

Silver Spoon Smoke Shop

8521 SW Barbur Blvd., 245-0489. 10 am-7 pm
Monday-Saturday, 11 am-5 pm Sunday.

In 1999, when Ben McEwan turned 18 and started working at his dad John's Barbur Boulevard head shop, there was still a stigma associated with such businesses. "People didn't even want to be seen walking in here," he says. Customers parked down the street in fear their cars would be recognized.

Ben hopes marijuana legalization will welcome new customers to the 26-year-old, mom-and-pop shop—people who would previously have been fearful to share their recreational smoking habits. "A lot of our business is regulars," Ben says. "People who bought their first pipe still come in here."

Silver Spoon's family ties give it credibility among other head shop owners. "There's a lot of locally owned things in Portland, the little food carts and stuff. We're kind of like that," Ben says. "A lot of people who grew up and lived here are about their town, and that's how we are. We've been here since day one, and we hope to be here a lot longer."

The Stash Gift Shop/82nd Avenue Tobacco & Pipe

The Stash Gift Shop, 17411 SE McLoughlin Blvd., Milwaukie, 654-9199, 9 am-10 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-7 pm, Sunday. 82nd Avenue Tobacco & Pipe, 400 SE 82nd Ave, 255-9987, 9 am-9 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-7 pm Sunday.

Linda Hood's first business was an Idaho record store she started with her then-husband that also sold smoking accessories. When Tower Records arrived, the couple closed the record store and moved to Portland to open a smoke shop, the Stash Gift Shop, in 1980. The original Stash location was split between a smoke shop and a metalhead store called the Metal Shop. "We outfitted some of the '80s rock-'n'-rollers." Hood says.

The couple opened another Stash location in Milwaukie in 1983. Years later, after a divorce and renovation, the Portland location became 82nd Avenue Tobacco & Pipe. The store, a grandfatherly smoke shop, is well-appointed with a cigar lounge for customers, in addition to stocking glassware and bongs. The shop hosts monthly events featuring cigar rollers and business owners from around the world promoting their products. Hood refers to the shop as "a little oasis on 82nd." It has a patio and gazebo, and is prominent in Portland's cigar scene.

Head East

13250 SE Division St., 761-3777, 10 am-9 pm Monday-Saturday, 10 am-6 pm Sunday.

Robert Smalley's first business venture was a convenience store called the Headquarters on Southeast 133rd Avenue and Division Street, next to a stand of lilac trees and the home where he raised his son, Paul. When the store closed in 1976, Smalley opened Head East head shop just a block down the road.

Paul hung out there growing up. "Probably when I was about 10 or 11 years old, there were four rules," says Paul, who now owns and runs the store after the death of his father. "I either had to give back rubs, braid their hair, wash the counters or fold T-shirts, and I could stay. It's funny because a lot of those employees are still good friends of mine."

Paul Smalley now takes the same care with his employees, treating everyone like family. (They still braid each other's hair.) Head East's interior is intricately designed and organized. You can find everything from household items to Rastafarian clothing. Smalley is devoted to stocking items outside the generic head-shop wares to keep his store up to date, including hammocks, jewelry and figurines.

"I've brought in a lot of a new products," he says. "I've really strived to keep up with the trends and eliminate certain things that I've felt weren't necessarily head-shop material."

Smalley attributes Head East's success to his knowledgeable staff. One employee is a local glass blower who makes some of the pipes sold there. Smalley is excited about pot legalization, and is confident his shop can adapt to a changing market. "July 1 is gonna be a day of celebration and freedom," he says.

The Third Eye Shoppe

3950 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 232-3393, 10 am-9 pm Monday-Friday, 11 am-8 pm Saturday-Sunday.

Third Eye's opening day was July 1, 1987, so when recreational marijuana becomes legal in Oregon, the head shop will be celebrating its 28th birthday. This seems fitting, given its importance in local marijuana history. The shop was started by weed legend Jack Herer—author of landmark tome The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which outlines various uses for the cannabis plant—and business partner "Captain" Ed Adair. "It's a relic," says Mark Herer, who took over the store from his father in 2001.

Third Eye began as a free-thinking, Grateful Dead-themed shop selling memorabilia on the first floor. One of the original managers, Carol Lee, introduced rocks, crystals and stones to be sold as merchandise, making the shop stand out from others. "It really adds a unique energy to the place," Mark Herer says.

Another benefit is Third Eye's location on bustling Hawthorne Boulevard, where customers regularly enter the store because of its laid-back atmosphere and hippie merchandise. "Hawthorne is a super-unique place in the universe," Herer says.

The community's support has helped make Third Eye a destination head shop, a tradition Herer is proud to continue from his father. "I'll often refer to it as the second-happiest place in the world next to Disneyland," he says.

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