Seniors finding ‘hip’ gifts for grandkids
Rather than ordinary presents like sweaters, some grandparents find what they need at ‘head shops’
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By Jud Snyder  December 20, 2013 12:00 am

Last week we had an article about shopping for Christmas gifts for the family dog or cat, found in 49er Pet in Rohnert Park. Continuing in this offbeat holiday vein, now we’re looking at what used to be called “head shops,” focused mainly on marijuana (they still are). There’s more to them than just cannabis gadgets and more than a few surprises were revealed.

Seniors know where to go

The question asked of store owners and managers was “Do you get older people, such as seniors, coming here to get hip holiday gifts for their grandchildren?” RP has ample stores with gift items like scarves, gloves, slippers, colognes and perfumes, but do seniors go to local head shops to prove their “hipness” to 18-plus years-old grandchildren?

”Yes, we get quite a few,” said Robin Pfefer of Gravenstones Gift and Smoke Shop in downtown Cotati. 


Studs and dangles available

She pointed out a huge array of studs and dangles for teens and older to add to their nostrils, ears, navels, or wherever. “We don’t do any piercing here, they have to go elsewhere.”

Her shop wall is crowded with many T-shirts ranging from plain white to many rock stars, clever sayings (a few scatological) appealing to teens and those in their 20s, and other colorful favorites in a variety of colors, many baseball caps, backpacks, a few electronic cigarettes, huge assortment of lighters from traditional Zippos to ultra-modern and several display cases of hip jewelry.

Glass water pipes of all different colors, hookahs, mouthpieces, pipes and hoses for group get-togethers dominate glassed-in counters.

“We’re probably the oldest smoke shop in the same location in all of Sonoma County,” Pfefer added. “We’ve been here for 32 years.” Pfefer, 51, started here as a clerk and four years later bought the store.

Ordinary cigarettes still sell

Both shops, by the way, do a thriving business in selling ordinary cigarettes.

(As a side note, we don’t intend to get into the legalities of marijuana, which have been described by pundits as “total insanity nationwide.” Medicinal marijuana clinics are common in California, where they are legal, but the DEA in Washington DC considers it illegal, sprays marijuana groves in Mendocino and Humboldt counties, murders and home invasions have added an unwelcome aura to this contentious dispute and there’s no end in sight.) 

In Rohnert Park, the most prominent head shop is Purple Island Smokeshop, located in Raley’s Towne Centre. Scott Reid, 21, manages it. It’s only been here for three years and it’s an independent shop, not a franchise.

“I used to smoke a pack of ciggies a day, but I’ve switched to electronic cigarettes,” he said. “It used to be regular cigarettes provided most our trade, but lately the sale of electronic ones are pushing regular ciggies pretty hard.”

He backs this up with an astonishing display. “We have nicotine or no nicotine types, flavors of all sorts you can choose and enough electronic styles, from pencil-thin to larger sizes to pick  from. 

“We don’t sell body jewelry but do well with T-shirts, scarves, backpacks and accessories,” Reid added, displaying a Bob Marley T-shirt. “We also have vaporizers for those who are fond of this style of smoking. I have to admit we don’t have many seniors looking for a hip gift for their grandchildren.”

A hip, last-minute gift

All in all, if you’re looking for a hip last minute gift for children or grandchildren, or even for yourself, seniors can find something different in these shops, if you don’t mind the presence of continuing emphasis on marijuana accessories.

California voters have approved medicinal marijuana clinics but the federal Drug Enforcement Agency still clings to their illegal label affixed to any marijuana growing in the country. This dispute may some day come to a conclusion. But the odds are it won’t be solved in the lifetimes of seniors these days seeking to be “hip” to the upcoming generations, 18 years or older.

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