Carrie Rengers

42 Below reopens in Wichita; continues fight for glass pipes

The downtown smoke shop 42 Below is reopening on Friday, but it likely will close again if it can’t start selling glass pipes.
The downtown smoke shop 42 Below is reopening on Friday, but it likely will close again if it can’t start selling glass pipes. The Wichita Eagle

Less than a month after closing due to changes in the city’s drug paraphernalia enforcement, 42 Below is reopening Friday at 11 a.m.

Jeremiah Wilson says he’s reopening his smoke shop, which is on East Douglas just east of Washington, “to pay the bills and to fulfill the lease and to take care of the business. We have to sell something. We have to be a business.”

Previously, the store specialized in locally made hand-blown glass pipes, and Wilson says he wants to be allowed to sell them once again.

“We’re in the middle of negotiations right now,” he says of his lawyer and the city. “We’ve gotten a great response.”

Wilson says he believes the city’s issue is with crack and meth pipes, which he calls “items that hurt the community.”

“It’s mostly the gas stations that are selling those kinds of items.”

He says his pipes, some of which are as much as $2,000, are for tobacco use.

“It’s not just glass pipes,” Wilson says. “It’s art. It’s what we do. That’s why it’s such a big deal.”

He says meth and crack pipes have straight tubes that aren’t able to hold tobacco.

Wilson says it sounds like the city could be open to tobacco glass pipes.

“They really don’t have an issue with that in particular.”

A spokesman for the Wichita Police Department couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Until the issue is resolved, Wilson says he’ll sell e-cigarettes, papers, incense and local art.

“That’s about it, really, until further notice.”

He says he’s laid off most of his staff.

If he can’t sell pipes again, Wilson says he likely will close for good. He says he hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“We’re staying optimistic, you know?”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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