By: Victoria Handysides
Mar. 3, 2009
A county councillor has given the green light to a new crop of pot gear pushers that have moved into town, applauding efforts to smokescreen products from children.
The frosted windows of The Chad Smokeshop 420 combined with strict legal age enforcement and a location on Sherwood Park’s main commercial drag are enough to make narcotic naysayer Coun. Jason Gariepy nod in approval.
“In an ideal world, there would be no need for drug paraphernalia,” he said. “But, seeing that those products are legal, if there is a way for those items to be sold, this is probably the best way.”
Gariepy recently publicly bashed a Sherwood Park convenience store pushing pipes and bongs along with Slurpees, magazines and candy.
The pot leaf emblazoned shop is in close proximity to two schools and advertises smoking accessories on a roadside sign. Owners admittedly sell pipes to teenagers 16 and older, and operate a Facebook page befriended predominantly by teens.
Gariepy is exploring legal implications of a brewing bylaw proposal that, if passed, will restrict the sale of drug paraphernalia within close proximity to schools, arenas and transit stations.
“I’m very opposed to pipe and bong stores being disguised as neighbourhood convenience stores,” Coun. Gariepy said. “If you’re a standalone store, follow good business practices and restrict access to kids that’s appropriate.”
The Park’s newest head shop was designed with discretion, owners said.
“We didn’t want to interfere with anyone,” said owner Chad Wentworth. “We went about it in a professional way. We’re not just some cheap store that threw some products in it hoping to make it.”
All employees at each of Wentworth’s four Alberta stores take Alberta Tobacco Act tests before starting work, he added.
Gariepy’s proposal to council will likely be ready within 30 days, he said.
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.
New shop aims to be a hit
Owner sees nothing wrong with products
BY TODD W, HURMAN
Chad Wentworth believes his new business won’t go up in smoke.
In fact, he thinks it “will be quite the hit!”
Wentworth ‘s newest store, The Chad Smokeshop 420, located at 5001-49 Ave., opened last Wednesday with products that you won’t find anywhere else in town.
Besides claiming to have the cheapest cigarettes in Olds, Wentworth’s store is full of pipes of all shapes and sizes and materials glass, ceramic, wood, metal and even traditional Eastern-style hookahs or narghiles.
While many people might associate most of Wentworth’s products with marijuana, the 25-yea r-old said he isn’t worried because he isn’t doing anything illegal.
“There is always going to be disapproval, but I think once most people realize that we are not selling smokes and papers and stuff to people under 18, I don’t think parents will mind too much.
“There are also lots of people over 40 and 50 years- old that like this kind of stuff but don ‘t talk to other people about it,” Wentworth said.
He said if anyone comes in looking to buy drugs , he just points to a sign near the cash register that tells people not to even ask.
Originally from Athabasca, Wentworth moved to Olds about five years ago. He opened up Dad’s Collectibles last September – mostly to sell personal stock – but said it wasn’t quite what he wanted .
He sold his share in the business to his partner to focus on opening a smoke shop – an idea that has been in the works for the past two years.
With Red Deer being the nearest place to get the type of products Wentworth sells, “Plus the fact of having new college students coming to town every year, Olds is the right place for his type of store” he said.
“Olds is growing, if , don’t do it, someone else will ,” he said. “I want to carry stuff that you can’t find anywhere else. You don’t want to go to the city to buy and my prices are 20 to 70 percent cheaper than in Reel Deer. You save $20 on gas and you save $20 on your purchase.
“You can’t go wrong there.”
Aside from pipes and cigarettes, Wentworth also sells hooded sweatshirts and collectible knives. He also intends to eventually sell cigars as well.
Even though his store has just opened, Wentworth has plans to franchise out the name with his first one to open in Drumheller.
And while the shop doesn’t have a sign on it yet, Wentworth said it’s not to stay discreet, it’s been too cold to apply it to the window.