Where to Purchase Your First Glass Piece
Purchasing your first cannabis pipe can be a bit confusing. Between finding reputable vendors, learning the lingo, and selecting a piece that suits your individual needs, there’s a lot to learn and consider before diving in. Fear not: this series will give you an overview of the purchasing process, including how to choose your first flower pipe or dab rig, where to shop for glass online, and an introduction to functional and non-functional glass art.
In part one and two of this series, we covered the basics of pipe design and function, outlining the most important information needed to make a confident selection. In this third installment, we’ll dive into finding the right glass vendor. Whether it’s a website or a storefront, a glass retailer can make or break your first glass buying experience.
So, what’s there to know?
Buying Glass at a Head Shop
A head shop is a retail outlet that specializes in smoking accessories, and these shops are particularly well-suited for first-time glass buyers as staff can talk you through all your questions in-person.
Head shops typically provide a large selection of pipes and accessories. Some retailers cater to budget buyers looking for a quick and easy smoking solution, while others focus on high quality glass for collectors.
Do a little research on your local head shops by reading reviews online. These can help you evaluate a shop’s staff, selection, and prices before leaving home.
More benefits offered by head shops include:
- Real-time assistance: Having a store associate available to answer your immediate questions can be massively helpful to inexperienced customers.
- A hands-on experience: Being able to hold and handle a prospective purchase makes a huge difference, as you can get a better feel for the weight, design, and quality.
- Building relationships: Purchasing glass in-person can potentially lead to a positive retailer-consumer relationship. Head shops want to keep you as a returning customer, and that may mean special promotions, discounts, and deals are coming your way.
Depending on your local laws, don’t be surprised or distressed by a shop that advertises themselves as a novelty gift shop or tobacco retailer. This is common, particularly in places that have not yet legalized cannabis.
Lastly, it’s imperative for first-time glass buyers to seek out reputable vendors. Not all borosilicate glass pieces are created equal, and poorly crafted glass pipes can be disastrous in more ways than one. Unfortunately, there are vendors out there who purchase low-quality glass and sell them to those who simply don’t know any better.
However, there are many suppliers who are dedicated to sourcing quality glass from quality artists and manufacturers. If you’re unable to find these distributors in-person, it may be time to consider a trustworthy online retailer.
Buying Glass Online
The internet has completely changed the landscape of the borosilicate glass industry by expanding consumer purchasing power beyond the confines of a storefront.
For many, buying online affords a number of luxuries that storefronts lack. These include:
- Privacy: Not everyone wishes to consult with a store associate before making a purchase, and many may feel uncomfortable shopping in-person at all. Online retailers offer a private, comfortable space for these types of consumers. And don’t worry, mailed packages from online retailers tend to be very discreet.
- Ease of use: In some areas, it can be very difficult—or impossible—to find a convenient physical location. Buying a pipe online can be as simple as a few clicks.
- Greater selection: A head shop’s inventory is limited to their physical space, and they rely on rotating products to make room for new selections. Online retailers can offer a vast selection of glass and accessories that you can sort and filter through.
Whether you choose to purchase your glass in-person or online, it’s important to make sure that you choose a retailer with a selection of quality glass. Here’s a shortlist of online retailers worth checking out:
Glass Conventions & Buying Direct
We now know that buying online or in-person comes with different advantages, but for those looking for the best of both worlds, consider glass conventions and buying direct.
Some cities host glass or cannabis conventions annually. These large-scale events often feature dozens of vendors, a myriad of merchandise, and a hotbed of discounts and flash deals.
Conventions favor the consumer because competition is fierce, driving prices down. Customers can also talk to artists and manufacturers directly, which can lead to better deals and recommendations.
Although only available to industry personnel, B2B (business to business) conventions such as Champs Trade Show and the American Glass Expo are another way to buy direct. Here, artists distribute glass directly and, in many cases, offer live glass blowing.
Next up, we’ll dive into the world of stunning artistic glass, where creativity and technical skill converge. Stay tuned to learn more about production and heady glass, alongside an exploration of functional and nonfunctional glass masterpieces.
Lead image by Patrick Bennett/Leafly