By Dan Spalding
WARSAW — Warsaw now has a smoking supplies store that is perhaps bigger and different than anything ever seen locally.
Smoking Vaping & Hookah opened for business Monday, March 14, at 2103 E. Center St., and celebrated with a ribbon-cutting with representatives of Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce.
As the name suggests, the store specializes in a broad selection of smoking products intended for tobacco and vaping, hookah pipes and merchandise used for cannabis products.
Customers are greeted at the entrance by a large selection of glass bongs, one of which is priced at $200. There is a waft of incense in the air.
But this is not your grandfather’s head shop from the 1970s and ’80s.
The store is bright and clean, and like many businesses today, there are a handful of security cameras inside.
Most of the products are behind counters and in glass display cases. There is an expansive selection of pipes, papers, dugouts, grinders, rolling machines, rolling trays, ashtrays, CBD products and vaping merchandise. There are even bongs fitted with a face mask.
The store is owned by Mo Sawal and operated with family members They also own and operate similar stores in Kendallville and LaGrange.
While marijuana is illegal in Indiana, possession of most smoking paraphernalia remains legal until it is used or has residue of a controlled substance on it.
The availability of smoking paraphernalia is not new to Warsaw. Smoke shops and some music stores have evolved in recent years to meet the needs of a growing demand for vape products and often have a collection of pipes and bongs.
Perhaps what is changing and making smoke shops more popular is the wave of states moving toward legalizing marijuana and a belief that people are bringing to Indiana cannabis products purchased in Michigan. Drug arrests in Indiana now routinely include edibles and cannabis cartridges designed for vaping and much of it is likely coming from Michigan.
Mo Sawal points out that everything sold in the store is legal and hopes to succeed with a diverse line of products.
“We’re trying to have everything here,” Mo Sawal said.
Rob Parker, the Chamber’s president and CEO, arrived for the ribbon cutting and admitted he had never seen many of the products available in the store.
He said the owners approached him about joining the chamber.
Membership organizations like the chamber cannot turn down membership requests if the business operation is considered to be legal.
The store is adjacent to Jimmy John’s sandwich shop. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.