So, You Want to Open a Smoke Shop, Part 2

So, You Want to Open a Smoke Shop, Part 2

Published by Denise McKenzie on Nov 26th 2019


In our last article, we discussed the initial steps you should take to open a retail smoke shop.

At this point, you should have your business plan outlined along with a budget to factor in all costs to start up, open, and manage operations. Ideally, you also have registered your business name under a DBA or LLC, and have done your research into the licensing and permits required for a retail smoke shop.

There is still a lot to do! Here are a few tips on how to find a location, design your store layout, and stock your shelves. 

Find the right location.

An ideal spot for a smoke shop is a place that has frequent and steady foot traffic. The main thoroughfare of your town with busy sidewalks and other shops is perfect. 

If you are going for a more traditional head shop, find a spot near different "lifestyle" specific businesses such as tattoo shops, record stores, and other eclectic shops. If you want a modern, minimalist vibe for your store, try to find a location near other high-end retailers, such as specialty electronic stores and clothing stores.

Here are a few more examples of great locations:

  • Near a college campus
  • Downtown area 
  • Strip mall or shopping center
  • Popular tourist location
  • Near a cannabis retailer or dispensary

Whether you are in a big city or a small town, your store location will play a major role in how well your business succeeds. Be sure to explore all your options and check out the area before you commit to a lease or sale. 

Plan your layout and design.

Having a strategic store layout and design can positively impact sales and improve the customer's overall experience. 

Use the right floor plan

There are many types of retail floor plans, but there are a few that work best for smoke shops. For example, a loop floor plan is an excellent choice to maximize wall space while at the same time, will designate a pathway for customers to follow throughout the store.

A free-flowing plan will open up space and allow you to set up product displays more creatively and strategically. This style is ideal for specialty or boutique retailers.

Another option is a diagonal store layout. This plan is perfect for a smoke shop that carries a lot of vaporizers with different attachments, especially e-cigarettes. Various parts and accessories are displayed and can easily be seen by customers and monitored by employees.

Keep your customers in mind

Catch their attention before they walk in the door by designing an eye-catching window display. Since you are just opening, create a display that reflects your overall purpose of the store, as well as the sort of items they might find inside.

Once they're in, be sure they can safely navigate your store without running into fixtures, products, or other customers. You want them to feel comfortable browsing your store without sacrificing personal space, or feeling like they might run into something.

Make it fun

This is the easiest part. Have fun with it! Setting up your store may seem like tedious part of the process, but this is your chance to really get creative. Let your personality shine through the fruits of your labor. It is your store, after all. 

  • Decorate with bright colors to catch people's attention, or keep it calm with muted tones to fit your minimalist mood
  • Use signage and posters to add value to displays and different parts of your store
  • Don't over clutter and keep the entrance open and spacious
  • Create displays that represent your merchandise in a fun way

Stock your shelves and manage inventory.

Now it is time to make your initial purchase to stock your shelves. If you followed part one of this blog series, you've most likely staked out potential vendors or distributors for your inventory supply. Ideally, you have already set up a wholesale account and have a good idea of what products you are going to purchase.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your first order:

Create a diverse bottom line

Be sure to order a variety of products that will fill up your space. You don't want any section of your store looking empty for your grand opening. You want to hit all the main categories if you're going to open a traditional smoke shop.

  • Vaporizers
  • Glass pipes
  • Grinders
  • Storage
  • Apparel
  • Accessories (papers, lighters, rolling trays, torches, silicone, cleaners, etc.)

Plus, if you have a little bit of everything, it will be easy to gauge what sells out the quickest and what you may not want to reorder.

Offer different price points

Not everyone walking in a store is looking to spend an arm and a leg, and that goes both ways. Often, someone who walks into a smoke shop is about to buy something they haven't before, so they might be hesitant to put up much cash. Others prefer to pay for name brand or quality, so they might be willing to spend a little more.

A surefire way to appease all types of customers is to offer 2-3 price points. Some will opt for the least expensive option, while others will go for pricier selection. There is such a wide variety of glass and vaporizers out there today. It's easy to provide a wide range of price points for all customers.

Find a POS system that works

Keeping track of what you sell can be one of the most challenging aspects of managing a brick and mortar retail store. If you don't have a sound system in place, you'll start losing money without even realizing it (until you finally do your quarterly books!).

Luckily there are many POS options for retailers that function as a cash register and inventory manager, as well as monitor for sales, employees, and overall analytics.


You're almost there.

Your dream of opening a smoke shop is unfolding before your eyes. Feels good, doesn't it? You've got your location, you've planned your store layout. Inventory is trickling in...Now what? 

Stay tuned for part three of our series on how to open a smoke shop. We'll highlight the last few things to get in order before you open your doors:

Hiring and training staff

Marketing your smoke shop

Preparing for the grand opening

In the mean time, please feel free to reach out to our dedicated sales team. If you don't have an account manager yet, fill out a wholesale inquiry on our website and we'll make sure you are teamed up with the right person to guide you every step of the way.