Before marijuana went mainstream and decriminalized in many states, some enthusiasts in New York City would often surreptitiously duck into smoke shops or hastily make purchases at sidewalk tables when on the hunt for new accessories.

Fast-forward to today, and that’s no longer the case, especially as some city smoke shops have wares that look more like works of art than an apparatus to smoke “tobacco products.” Some, like Village Grannies or Master Piece, can even be easily mistaken for a home or lifestyle store.

Metro witnessed many patrons inside Chelsea Market do just that during a recent visit to Higher Standards, one of the city’s newest smoke shops. That’s partly why the company chose the high-profile destination to house its flagship retail store.

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“We chose this location because it speaks to a culture of connoisseurship. All the eateries and stores in the market really contain curated products for people who like the finer things in life, almost a hedonistic, indulgent culture,” explained Chief Marketing Officer Sasha Kadey. “They care about the flavor of what they smoke and vaporize and want to elevate that experience — that’s kind of the root of the Higher Standards brand. It’s about promoting connoisseurship in this area and the things that go with that.”

The homey, inviting store offers everything from its own brand of heavy-duty USA-made glass cannabis accessories to books, blankets and products from Jonathan Adler, Marley Naturals and Jane West and artfully placed Volcano Vaporizers.

While the New York smoke shop is the Higher Standards flagship, it currently has a pop-up at The Pottery dispensary in Los Angeles and is planning to expand to another three to five locations next year, Kadey said.

The smoke shops of today can easily be mistaken for home or lifestyle stores and their products works of art. For some, that’s intentional. (Higher Standards)

A smoke shops guide to cleaning your smoking pipe

Let’s face it: Marijuana enthusiasts are going to enthuse whether recreational marijuana becomes legal in their area or not. But we bet many are not doing so in a recently cleaned pipe.

“You wouldn’t go out and buy really expensive fish and eat it off a dirty plate, so why would you buy really expensive materials and smoke it out of a dirty pipe?” Kadey asked.

With the core products at Higher Standards focused on care and maintenance “that will work with any glassware or vaporizer” — yes, including those colorful pipes you got in St. Mark’s — here are some tips to keep them clean for maximum flavor.

• Fill and soak the piece with isopropyl alcohol, preferably 99 percent. It’s more concentrated and “much better at breaking down that residual buildup or resin, which can get pretty sticky,” Kadey said.

• Add salt rocks, “which give it a natural abrasive tool, and you basically plug the holes, shake the piece and empty it,” he added.

• Use a pipe cleaner or cotton swab to get the hard-to-reach places where there might be extra build up.

The more often you clean your smoking products, the easier it will be to maintain, making cleaning “less a chore and more a ritual,” Kadey said. 

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