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how to start a smoke shop

How to Start a Smoke Shop

How to start a smoke shop. For starters, did you know that small business owners make, on average, upwards of $70,000 per year?

One of the most common options is to open up a shop. This allows you to specialize in something you’re passionate about. And if you’re passionate about tobacco, hemp, or marijuana, you could open a smoke shop.

A smoke shop startup is guaranteed to be a hit in your local area. The legal hemp market means you have a goldmine of business out there, waiting for you.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to start a smoke shop. 

How to Start a Smoke Shop: Start Saving 

It goes without saying, but any business venture will be a heavy financial endeavor in the beginning. You’ll need to lease the land, purchase equipment, and pay for licenses.

Of course, you can always take out a loan to hit off your smoke shop business. But this could sink you into debt.

Owning a business can take a few years to establish yourself. Prepare as best you can now before those upcoming big expenses.

HOW TO START A SMOKE SHOP: Register Your Business

You need to decide what sort of business this is going to be. Are you the sole owner? Will it be a partnership or an LLC?

These are important questions when it comes to taxation purposes. You need to obey the law when you register your business, or you could face serious legal repercussions later on. Take a look at this list for some of the things you need to keep in mind.

You’ll need to choose a business name, and get it registered as a trademark. Then you’ll have to get a federal tax number.

From there it’s licenses and permits. If you’re going to sell tobacco or marijuana, you’ll need the appropriate legal authorization.

HOW TO START A SMOKE SHOP: Get a hemp permit

Check with your state to see if you have a hemp program. Here in Florida you would need a Retail hemp permit Be sure you check the requirements beforehand as there are minimum construction standards to be approved for your permit. You may need a mop sink for example. And you should carry only USDA licensed brands on your shelves, such as Delta XL or WOW Vapors as the products will be inspected in person.

HOW TO START A SMOKE SHOP: Make a Marketing Plan

Smoke shop marketing is the fun part. It’s here where you decide what sort of business you’re going to be. You’ll decide who your target audience is, and what business model you’ll use.

Further, you’ll decide what sort of advertising campaign you’re going to deploy. You’ll need to do a ton of research on your local community. Get to know the online community, as well. 

If you have plans to expand beyond one shop, this is the stage where you should consider that question. Your aims will be much different if you’re content to run only a single shop.

The most important thing here is building a brand that sticks out. You want people to remember you, even if they’re not your target audience. The best advertising campaigns are those that people can’t get out of their heads.

Finally, you’ll have to determine if you’ll do online sales. Having an auxiliary online market could get you a lot more business than a typical brick-and-mortar shop. However, you’ll need to consider shipping costs, laws, and regulations outside your home state.


Do you share your passion for a smoke shop startup with friends? Now’s the time to see if they’re interested in taking part. Running a business alone could prove to be overwhelming. 

However, sharing your business with others means letting them influence business decisions. If you have a clear vision of what your smoke shop is going to be, you might want to work alone. 

This comes with the trade-off that you won’t make as much money. Sharing profits means it may take some time before you can live off the income. It also means you may have to deal with unreliable business partners.

Investors don’t have to be business partners. You might find locals who want to fund the project, but want no minimal part in the decision-making. In that case, you’ll need an investor agreement.

Whatever the case, you need money. Giving more control of your business to others provides financial security. Depending on your economic situation, you may have no choice.


You’ve got a name, your marketing plan, and now some investment. It’s time to find the physical location where you’ll open a smoke shop.

This is easier said than done. For starters, you’ll need to find a balance between a good location and affordable rent. Cheaper rent may put your business in a neighborhood with more crime.

You may also have to deal with NIMBYs, short for “Not in my backyard.” These are the annoying folks who use social pressure to drive things they don’t like out of the neighborhood. The idea of a smoke shop in their “backyard” may put you under pressure to leave.

Since this is a new business, don’t be afraid to go small. A corner shop is a great way to begin. This gives you less space to manage, which in turn is less work and more control of your brand.

Remember, changing locations is always a future option. As your business grows in popularity, you could move to a bigger location. Or, you could open up a second shop to broaden your service area.

Get Yourself a Supplier

So you’ve found a location. The last step before opening is finding a reliable business that can provide the products you sell!

The great thing about a smoke shop startup is you can sell a long list of things. Buyers aren’t just looking for great deals, they’re looking for something new to try. Offering unique cannabinoids like HHC and Delta 8 puts you a cut above the competition.

As a fledgling business, inventory management will be crucial. It can be hard to purchase product when you’re not sure how much you’ll sell. That’s why it’s ideal for you to buy wholesale to save money.

That’s not all a good supplier can do for you. They can help you with a process known as white labeling. White labeling is when a supplier helps you to market their goods as your own.

White labeling gives you a unique, proprietary product at a fraction of the cost. Your supplier will help you every step of the way in developing a strong brand.

Make sure to partner with a supplier that cares about you. Quality customer service will make a big difference if disaster strikes. Choose suppliers that will look out for you if something goes awry.

Create a Storefront and Decorate the Interior

First impressions are extremely important. Someone should turn their head when they drive by your shop. A big, lighted sign, bright posters, and clean windows will make a lasting impression.

The second someone walks into your store, they need to feel comfortable. They need to see a clean, well-maintained shop where everything is in order. A shop that looks and smells old conveys sloppiness and unprofessionalism.

While this is a shop for tobacco and weed, you should try to make it smell nice. Have an air filter running, and plug in some deodorizers where you can. Smoke shops have a bad reputation for smelling musty, so you can break that stereotype.

Spend some time researching how businesses organize their floor space. Believe it or not, there’s a psychology to how the setup of a room influences a person. You’ll get more sales if you learn how to direct customers through the store and focus them on certain products.

Implement your advertising campaign with the store. Create offers and discounts to get people interested. The more time people spend in the store, the better.

Let customers try things out. If you have a bong collection, give them a chance to handle the product. Creating interaction increases the chance that people will purchase your product.

Be Known for Your Customer Service

Your reputation is everything in business. All it takes is a couple of bad customer service reps to ruin a store’s reputation. Conversely, a strong reputation will boost your sales and convert new customers.

Learn all about customer psychology. Smile, greet newcomers, and provide prompt answers to their questions. If you build your shop to provide a certain experience, that will only increase sales.

Use this as a chance to build a brand image, too. Use vocabulary and language that fits with the brand. Everything from your uniform to your color scheme contributes to that image.

Determine what sort of return or refund process you will have. It’s tempting to be strict on returns, but this can embitter customers if the product doesn’t meet their expectations. Companies can sometimes lose a lot in returns and refunds, but that gives them loyal customers that come back again and again.

Finally, be aware of your store’s online presence. Review sites are the keystone of any brick-and-mortar business these days. Many businesses neglect online reviews, and that’s only to their detriment.

Find the Right Supplier for Your Business

Now you know how to start a smoke shop. With patience, this could grow into a lucrative business with a strong reputation in your local area. The growing demand for vape and weed means there’s an untapped stream of profits for the taking.

However, you need to make sure you have a reliable smoke shop supplier. A good supplier may be the deciding factor in a smoke shop startup. Register for wholesale on SW Distro before you open a smoke shop.



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