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UnderGround Smoke Shop Puffs Up Downtown Pipelife

By Pamela Rouse
Published: Thursday, October 07, 2010, at 10:43AM
pipes and cigar cutters Pamela Rouse [Flickr]

Pipes and cigar cutters on display at the Underground Smoke Shop.

"You can't smoke in apartments, you can't smoke in bars," explains new Downtown neighbor LaChance. "So I wanted to have a space for these people to hang out and feel welcome."

The owner and operator of the new UnderGround Smoke Shop, located at the SB Lofts, says he wanted to target people who smoked, or had anything to do with smoking.

LaChance moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn about six months ago. He was walking around Los Angeles and noticed there were no smoke shops or actual hookah bars Downtown.

"More people are moving into Downtown, more businesses are opening up, and all the locals are actually supporting one another," La Chance said, noting that he chose his location based on Spring's foot traffic, recent bar openings, and the direction he saw Downtown taking.

"I've had a lot of local business owners that came in and introduced themselves. Even (those) that don't smoke but they like the fact that something like this has opened up in the neighborhood."

LaChance intends to expand his selection for the store based on suggestions that downtown residents give him. "I want to have what the locals smoke."

He carries everything from loose tobacco, cigarettes, cigars and all the accessories that go with them. The cigars start as low as $2.99 and can run upwards of of $13 or more.

He does sell a wide range of hookah pipes for as low as $15, however, you can also sit outside on the patio and smoke the hookah by yourself or with a friend. Smoking at the shop starts about $10. There are approximately 160 flavors you can smoke, price depending on which variety of hookah is smoked.

For example, there are the "fresh fruit" hookahs where the tabacco is served on fresh fruit rather than the clay bowl. Within the next week he'll have fresh fruit hookah available when his refrigerator arrives. Fruit juice hookahs involve putting things like apple juice on the bottom instead of water, so when a apple flavored tobacco is smoked, it goes through the apple juice rather than water. "It gives you an extra boost of flavor."

He showed off one of his "frozen hookahs" where the bottom is unscrewed and kept in a small freezer. When the hookah is ready to be smoked, you take the base out of the freezer and re-attach it, adding water to pre-frozen pipe.

The smoke shop keeps regular hours, but on Sundays will stay open until 9pm or 11pm depending on business. "If customers are hanging out we usually hang out with them til 11," says LaChance.

UnderGround Smoke Shop / 548 S. Spring / 213-622-0224 / Hours: Monday-Wednesday: 12pm-11:30pm, Thursday: 12pm-12:30pm or 1am, Friday and Saturday: 12pm-2am, Sunday: 12pm-9pm or 11pm

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