Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We hit the triple nickel. Thank you for 15 years!

Smokin Js is 15 years old!!  I (Jay Fratt) established my company in August of 1997.  I wanted to take the time to write a blog article thanking all of you for the support and inspiration throughout the years.

Est. 1997
Established 1997

After 15 Years
After 15 Years

I have met some amazing people over the years.  From customers to vendors, and competitors to employees, my business has brought innovative, interesting, unique, and brilliant people to my door.  I started my business to be more than a headshop or a glass shop.  I wanted to innovate a new retail concept that had unique gifts and products for every member of the family.  Currently my store concept contains over 2000 products (even online;).  At Smokin Js we strive to bring you a HIGHer level of service, and a HIGHer level of quality.  I incorporate valuable customer feedback with years of experience.  If it wasn't for you, Smokin Js wouldn't exist.  Keep coming, and I promise to keep working hard to serve you.

In celebration of our 15 year anniversary we are offering some of our most popular products at 15% off in August.  The sale products are in the "special offers" section of our web site, and available at our physical retail locations.

The most common question people ask me is how I got started in business?
I was 23, and unhappy working as a program engineer at a local plastic manufacturing plant in Vancouver, Wa.  My first business that I owned and operated on the side, The Informed Investor, a stock market investment newsletter was struggling, but I knew working for myself was the way I wanted to go.  I often say that starting your own business as your primary source of income is like jumping off a cliff, and you have to find out if you have a parachute.  I gave my two weeks notice at the plastic plant and started preparing Northwest HEMP Bizarre, a hemp clothing retail store.  Yes, 23 year olds think spelling words wrong is cheeky;)
I had no experience with retailing, but I knew how to listen.  Four out of five customers would come into my store and look around, ask if I sold pipes, and leave.  After six months of business, I could not afford the gas to heat my rental home.  The writing was on the wall, I needed to change gears and offer a product that wasn't readily available at that time.  Vancouver Pipe & Tobacco was born, the oldest alternative pipe & tobacco store in Southwest Washington.  Oldest at birth because there were no alternative pipe & tobacco stores in Southwest Washington at that time.  Immediately my business met pressures from the police who tried to shut my business down siting local laws on the sale of paraphernalia.  I vigorously defended my business model, business practices, products, and myself to the mayor of Vancouver and the commander of the local police force.  Every business owner and market pioneer faces adversity and moments of trepidation, I was no different.  People often wonder why we are so conservative with the way we sell our products at Smokin Js.  These beginnings showed me that you can stand firm against political pressure if you are responsible and do things the right way.  We follow all the strictest laws in the sale of our alternative pipes and products so that we can ensure our survival no matter which way the political winds blow.  This business practice can clearly be seen today with our web store, where we only ship alternative pipes and products via adult signature (21 years of age).  We have no desire to sell alternative pipes and products to minors, and we prove it every day, month, and year with our business practices and policies.

Another question I am often asked is what my favorite piece is?
That's easy.  I love my original Jah Creations hand blown glass water pipe purchased in 1997.  Just like Smokin Js, my piece has been owned and operated by me for 15 years!
  This pipe and I are becoming antiques in the glass industry;)

Thank you thank you thank you.  I love my customers!