Nov 15th – 21st
The Chad Smokeshop 420 was not always welcomed with open arms.
This undated article from sometime in early 2010 highlights some of the difficulties The Chad Smokeshop 420 faced in the beginning…
The Town of Athabasca’s Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) has asked for more information regarding a sign for the Chad Smokeshop 420, located on 49th Street, before granting a permit to owner Chad Wentworth.
Wentworth told the Advocate that the sign would include the name and logo of his store, which opened on Friday.
At the town’s MPC meeting on Tuesday night, Mayor Colleen Powell asked if the town could legitimately ask for changes to what Wentworth wanted on his sign .
“It’s sending a message that most people in the community don’t want sent,” said Powell , of the fact that ‘420’, a reference to April 20, Cannabis Day, would appear on the sign.
“My understanding is that it was chosen in place of a marijuana leaf,” said councillor Christine Nelson.
Powell told council that she had received several phone calls from concerned residents about the new store.
“Everything that is sold is legal, absolutely, but there is some concern that this is promoting drug use among young people. Whether or not this is true, that is the message that is coming to me,” she said .”I would prefer on the sign, that it would just say ‘smoke shop.”’
But chief administrative officer Doug Topinka pointed out that ‘420’ was part of the company name.
“It’s a small town and is this something we want sold in our community?” asked councillor Lionel Cherniwchan, who said the new store was different from having a massage parlor opening in town.
“Would I want a massage parlor adjacent to the building, probably no.”
Council also discussed granting a change of use for the store, which was formerly a clothing store.
“I kind of like dress shops. Why do we have to pass a change of use?” asked councillor Roger Morrill before asking if council could get legal advice on the matter .
“Basically this is a shop selling cigarettes. The actual paraphernalia is at the back of the store,” said councillor Christine Nelson.
Council did grant a change of use on the building, however, the motion to grant a sign permit for the new store was tabled until the next MPC meeting.
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.
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.