Cigar bars have multiplied to the point where they are no longer a trend but a fixture.
Up and coming in 1997 are nouveau head shops where patrons might smoke trendy brands of cigarettes or buy clothing made of hemp.
Expect so-called "eco-cigarettes" with additive-free tobaccos to multiply, like, well, weeds. Besides American Spirits, the established eco-cigs, you'll see brands with names like Pure, Planet and Glory. (This twist on the oxymoronic idea of a healthy smoke probably represents the latest form of denial for the post surgeon general warning generations.)
A totally integrated smoker's hang is Galaxy Gallery on Melrose, which strives to be to the head shop what Borders is to books. In addition to the usual head shop inventory of bongs and pipes, it offers a cigar-filled humidor and a selection of imported tobaccos as well as eco-cigs.
Anything legal can be smoked right there at the cappuccino bar. To keep the eyes and ears entertained while the lungs are working overtime, Galaxy also has occasional live music and performances.
At a Melrose hemporium called 2000 B.C., co-owner Luca Scalisi promises a Munchie Bar in '97.
"It goes along with our theme," he explains, referring not to marijuana but hemp. His inventory has moved away from smoking accessories and more toward products made of hemp fiber--a retail trend expected to get stronger in the coming year. Soon, besides getting a pair of hemp pants and some hemp paper (like the Constitution was printed on), 2000 B.C. shoppers will be able to relax with an assortment of snacks ranging from hemp teas and coffee, hemp cookies, vegan mousses and even Pop-Tarts and Snickers bars.
The only tobacco product cigarette Scalisi offers is Glory, made of tobacco and water, but his shop offers non-tobacco smoking options. "We're into promoting alternative tobacco blends," he says. For instance, look for people smoking Shaman's Blend--a combination of mugwort, yerba santa and sage.
Mmm, pass the match.
Oh, and look for one more thing to go out in the coming year: the name "head shop," which no longer captures the essence of these new multipurpose retail gathering spots. "It's not what we're trying to do here," Scalisi says. "We're more of a lifestyle shop."