A South Bristol native recently opened Sea Smoke Shop, a store offering handmade glass pipes, vintage ashtrays, and other products on Main Street in Damariscotta.
Penn Way, now of Damariscotta, worked in New Mexico’s medical cannabis industry for seven years in senior management roles. All dispensaries included a full line of accessories for patients, he said.
After working in the industry for seven years managing other people’s businesses, Way said he reached a point where he wanted to slow down, own his own business, and “go home to Maine.”
“There’s just a better quality of life here than anywhere else,” Way said. “I like being a part of a small community.”
This past winter, Way searched for a commercial space in Damariscotta he could rent to set up his business. In February, he and his wife, Jamie Way, purchased 95 Main St. A commercial space on the first floor of the building was formerly home to The Bear and the Bea, an ice cream shop. Jamie Way has opened an ice cream shop, Wicked Scoops, in the front of the building, facing Main Street, while Penn Way has opened Sea Smoke Shop in the rear of the building.
Sea Smoke Shop carries a wide variety of glass pipes, high-quality vaporizers, a collection of vintage ashtrays, and other functional accessories. The shop is not a medical marijuana storefront, Way said.
Way said he is waiting until the Maine Legislature sorts out the rules governing recreational marijuana before evaluating whether the store will sell cannabis in any form.
More than 70 percent of Sea Smoke Shop’s pipes are made in America, including a “solid selection” from Maine and New England pipe artists, Way said. Among its inventory is a large selection of octopus pipes made by Justin Barr Glass, of Portland.
Way said he prices everything in the store fairly in order to pass savings along to customers.
“I’m a firm believer that if I can make a living and pass on those savings to the customer, they’re going to come back and they’re going to tell their friends,” Way said.
Sea Smoke Shop follows strict ID rules similar to Maine liquor agencies, Way said. If there is any reasonable question about a patron’s age, ID is required.
Like the ice cream shop, Sea Smoke Shop will support the Damariscotta River Association, an organization Way cares deeply about. He plans to hold a raffle with all proceeds going to the DRA.
“We live and work on the Damariscotta River, and it’s important to support organizations that educate and preserve this valuable natural resource that gives so much to us,” Way said.
Since the business opened at the end of June, business has been good, and word of mouth has been “extremely positive” from tourists and locals alike, Way said.
“Our goal was to demonstrate this rapidly growing industry is trending toward professional entrepreneurs and respectable storefronts with experts in the subject matter who value both community and responsible business practices, similar to what’s out West,” Way said. “What we’re doing here is very similar to what you see out in California now, and not at all like it was 20 or so years ago. These stores are very upscale, clean, and professional.”
Sea Smoke Shop is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The store is closed on Sundays.
For more information about Sea Smoke Shop, find the business on Facebook and Instagram. A website is in development.