Erin Pentelechuk / News Staff
Friday, March 6, 2009 10:41:00 MST AM
Controversy is in the hands of the business owner when it comes to selling tobacco or drug related products, according to the owner of Sherwood Park’s latest smoke shop.
Chad Wentworth, the owner of The Chad Smokeshop 420, said that businesses that sell controversial products have to take the necessary steps to ensure community members don’t feel threatened.
“I’m not here to upset anybody,” Wentworth said. “I’m a happy guy and I just want to do some business and make a living.”
Wentworth’s store, which specializes in tobacco, lighters, rolling machines, snuffers and bongs, recently celebrated its grand opening in Sherwood Park at 975 Broadmoor Boulevard on Tuesday. The Chad Smokeshop 420 also has locations in Olds, Leduc and Brooks. Wentworth said he has plans for 20 stores across Alberta and there was no particular reason he chose Sherwood Park to sell his wares.
Sherwood Park residents became outraged in November when a store in the Sherwood Park Mall, The Den, was found to be selling items similar to Wentworth’s shop. The Den’s lease was not renewed after the store manager refused to stop selling the paraphernalia. In February, Molly’s Mini Mart was found to be selling similar items. Residents have expressed concern regarding the sale of such items in the community and so near to Father Kenneth Kearns school, Salisbury Composite high school and Archbishop Jordan high school.
Wentworth said he is aware of the controversy that has followed business owners selling bongs and pipes, but he is not concerned. He said he has bent over backwards to ensure that his store is not a temptation for minors. The store’s locations, frosted front windows and the “18 + to enter” sign posted out front are Wentworth’s way of respecting the community. Even his website warns visitors, ‘If you are not of legal age please leave this site NOW!’
“We go all by the book here,” he said.
Coun. Jason Gariepy calls Chad’s Smoke Shop the “best of the worst.” Gariepy said that although he doesn’t support any kind of drug activity, he feels that Wentworth has taken measures to prevent the exposure of pipes and bongs to children and teenagers.
“I recognize these are legal products in Canada,” Gariepy said. “The problem I have with certain stores is that they sells pipes and bongs and they disguise themselves as convenience stores and that means anyone … underage can go in there and buy that stuff.”
Gariepy said he and Coun. Peter Wlodarczak visited Wentworth’s shop and were pleasantly surprised at the restricted access, frosted windows and the location, which is far from schools, transit centres and playgrounds.
“We don’t want pipes and bongs being sold next to our schools, next to our recreation facilities or next to our transit centres,” Gariepy said.
The two councillors are looking into amending the land use bylaw to prevent products like bongs and pipes from being sold in the Sherwood Park community. Gariepy said council will have a better picture of what can be done by next month.