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By Smoke Cartel Crew on Jul 16, 2015

What to expect during your first time at a smokeshop or headshop

Looking for a new water pipe to buy can be a daunting experience, let alone walking into a smoke shop for the first time! For others it can be a walk in the park. The lingo used, the items being sold, the stores atmosphere and the employees working all make up a critical aspect of your experience. Obtaining some basic knowledge before going into a smoke shop for the first time can provide some comfort to those who are new to the glass industry and smoke shop scene.

As a customer being privy to information on appropriate pricing, what questions to ask, what to look for when shopping and what not to do when in a smoke shop will allow you to have an enjoyable trip. We hope by providing you with some solid information on what to expect, what to look for and what to ask on your first smoke shop trip, will  prepare you for what lies ahead, and you will be able to find what you are looking for with ease and communicate your needs easily to the people working at your local smoke shop. Let's get started!

 We've worked with thousands of headshops and smoke shops, and are dedicated to being your favorite online option.  However, that doesn't mean you can't shop locally and find good options as well. 

Before you travel to a smoke shop, you will need:

  • A valid government issue ID (drivers license, passport, etc)
  • Be over the age of 18 (21 in some states)
  • Do not bring any dirty or used pieces with you
  • Do not bring tobacco, dry herbs, or consumables with you
  • Be respectful of individual store's rules and policies


Research is key

My first recommendation is to start doing some research before you even go to the shop. You'll want to have some knowledge of what the fair market price is for items and what to be looking for while shopping. Look at some online smoke shops and see what they're listing the prices at for certain artists work, branded and unbranded pieces. Also be sure to look into the prices for accessories because you will probably find something you would like to accessorize your piece with.

Another great idea is to research some information on the glassblowing process and what to look for in a glass pipe when purchasing. You will want to know where to look for flaws, what these flaws can mean, and how to negotiate for a piece based on finding a flaw. Anything that does not affect the function of the pipe is acceptable, and do not purchase if you fear the damage could get worse or create issues down the road for you! Look for oddly shaped items, unsturdy bases, crooked items and scratches, things like this could warrant a 10-25% discount.

You should have a solid idea of what type of piece you are looking for before heading to your smoke shop. Base this off what the pipe is going to be used for, either dry herbs or concentrates. The next thing to consider is how much you are willing to spend, so determine a price range that you want to stay within. By providing this information to the store clerk they should be able to be help you and direct you towards the pipe that will best fit your needs. You will also want to do some research on smoke shop lingo. We have an amazing article on headshop jargon you should review before making your first trip, this list of terms will help you immensely and give you an understanding of what may be said to you when inside a smoke shop!



The first thing to understand when walking into a smoke shop for the first time is the proper terminology to use and what may be asked of you when you arrive. It is very important for smoke shops to follow the regulations imparted on them, so be sure to follow the rules or you may be asked to leave a shop.

There are tons of people watching and waiting for us to slip up in this industry, which forces shops to have little tolerance and impose the rules they have in place strictly. The very first thing most shops will do is ask for you ID to verify you are above the age of 18, unless you appear to be over the age of 35 you should be prepared with your ID in hand to show the clerk immediately. By having your ID ready you show that you understand how things work and that you are a serious customer.

Everything sold in the smoke shop is for tobacco use or legal herbs and concentrates. You should refer to anything with water in it as a water pipe (do not use the term “bong” and avoid “bubbler” because this term has a lot of gray area) and anything that does not use water is either a “dry” piece or a hand pipe typically. Also, you can refer to “dab rigs” as concentrate pipes without worry and grinders have pollen catches. Anything you are unsure of just point to and ask, the attendant should be able to easily give you an appropriate term to use.

Get ID Verified and Use Proper Terminology

Once you're settled in and get your ID verified you typically will have a store attendant to help you with any questions you may have and they should walk you through the store or at least let you know that they are there if you have any questions or concerns. They may ask if you have come looking for something in particular or to just browse, this is when you would hit them with the information on what the piece will be used for and what your price range is.

You could also let them know what brands or artists you may be interested in, and if you have a certain type of design that you're leaning towards you might want to mention it at this time too. While speaking with the clerk, it's always a great idea to ask where the piece was made or who it was made by, you can also ask what type of glass this piece was made with and if it's custom or production.

All of these questions are very valid and can give you insight on what the value of the piece is. Always be sure to browse around a bit before you jump on anything in particular because you may find something in a shop that you are unable to find anywhere else. Once you find a piece that you are interested in, be sure to inspect the piece for any signs of damage. Be sure to look over the item very thoroughly because some damage can be very hard to spot.




Typical prices in a smoke shop can vary depending on the availability of certain items and how hard it is to find other sources of glass in that town. Although now with the recent surge in online glass sales, we are seeing more standardized prices for the most part.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to a couple hundred on hand pipes, water pipes can start around $40 and go up all the way into the thousands of dollars. The prices for pipes vary depending on the materials used to make the pipe, the techniques used and the artist who created the piece.

You will find pieces that were made in abundance should be cheaper because they are “production” pieces and “custom” or one of a kind pieces will carry a much larger price tag. Another factor that can greatly affect price is how new the technology or design is, if only one artist is doing that type of work or the technique is newly discovered you will see a higher price on these items.


Now that you are armed with some basic information on what to expect you should be able to make an informed successful trip to your local shop and leave feeling like you accomplished everything you had hoped to accomplish. So, please go explore and make your first trip to a smoke shop if you have not done so yet!

Happy smoke shopping!  As always - you can find the best deals and products by shopping online instead - with our digital headshop.

About the Author

Smoke Cartel - Online Headshop

Smoke Cartel Crew

Written by the staff here at Smoke Cartel. Our passionate team of headshop professionals are dedicated to educating people on products in the online headshop industry, from glass, to vaporizes, and all the consumption devices and accessories in between.

We believe that knowing how your products are made, what they were originally designed for, and how to properly use them - is essential to keeping our customers happy. If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to reach out to us!

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