Davis‘ one and only head shop has a new home in the heart of downtown.
The owners of D-Zone Novelties, a gift shop that sells tobacco paraphernalia, have moved their business to a larger location at 203 G St. The new place has a new name, too: Illusions.
At the corner of Second and G Streets, Illusions took over the space formerly occupied by Futon Emporium in the Anderson Bank Building.
The move has caused some in Davis to raise their eyebrows at the idea of a head shop moving into one of downtown’s prime retail locations. The Davis City Council will discuss the matter at their meeting Tuesday night. No specific ordinance is on the table, but the council could pass one requiring businesses like Illusions to get special permission from the city’s Planning Commission or City Council before setting up shop.
Speaking on behalf of the owners at a recent City Council meeting, attorney and former Davis Mayor Bill Kopper said he thought an ordinance would be unnecessary.
“It’s not like we have all these people lined up wanting to put in these types of stores,” Kopper said.
Illusions co-owner Mike Khateeb said in an interview that he disagrees with opponents and thinks it’s a matter of freedom.
“I totally respect their opinion, but everybody has a free choice,” he said.
It’s not the first time the shop has been in the spotlight.
When it opened in November 2004, Dead Zone Novelties offended the sensibilities of some in town by offering pornographic videos and magazines for sale in addition to its other merchandise. Community pressure caused the owners to take the porn off the shelves.
Illusions does not carry any adult material – its city zoning permit forbids it – but it does sell a broad variety of merchandise.
The back section of the store is only open to those over the age of 18. Most customers purchase hookahs or hookah accessories, Khateeb said, but the store also carries a range of glass pipes, water pipes, herbal grinders, cigarette rolling papers and other tobacco paraphernalia.
The hookahs range in price from $30 to $150. Smaller glass pipes go for anywhere between $10 and $40, and water pipes start at $30 and go up past $150.
The front section of the store is open to all ages and includes a variety of general interest items, such as t-shirts, body jewelry, figurines, high-end chess sets, posters, shot glasses and watches.
“Honestly it’s like a little bit of everything,” Khateeb said.
Khateeb said he sees a good mixture of younger and older customers.
“A lot of older folks love these carved wooden pipes,” he said. “It’s kind of traditional.“
A number of businesses that have occupied the retail spaces on the ground floor of the building have struggled to stay afloat. A space next door has been empty since June 2008, when Togo’s moved out. Two doors down, De Colores Fair Trade Gifts is currently having a going out of business sale.
Things don’t look too grim for Illusions, though. Business has been steady in the first couple weeks, Khateeb said. Tobacco paraphernalia is a favorite among college students, but Khateeb says the hottest seller so far has been the Marilyn Monroe paraphernalia.
“People love Marilyn Monroe,” he said. “Anything with her on it.“
Illusions is not the only business in town that sells smoking paraphernalia. Newsbeat, the newsstand and gift shop on Third Street, carries a small collection of handmade tobacco pipes. Cigarettes, lighters and other tobacco products are available at 30 other businesses in Davis.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.