I established Grateful J’s with the purpose of giving people a place to shop where they feel comfortable. My attitude is “It’s not what you smoke, It’s how you smoke it”. A pipe is just a pipe, an inanimate object that controls the flow of smoke to your mouth. Besides being the owner of the five Grateful J’s stores, I am a glass artist. I create objects for smoking, a pipe maker, free to express myself by putting a straight piece of glass in a fire and changing its form. I love what I do and do what I love. The smoke shop industry is very important to me. It is part of a culture, a culture that believes in freedom and the american dream. Be it controversial or not. I will and have stood up for this industry by starting the Florida Smoke Shop Association. ( http://floridasmokeshops.org )
Pipe makers and reps from all over the country would come to the store knowing I would buy all they had. I carried names like Snograss, Batram, Brian Bates and Strobel. I had no idea who these people were but I wanted their stuff. I didn’t even know their first names except for Brian (he was a local kid with some talent). Then there were the guys with the companies. A hippy kid with dreads named Dave came by with some pieces and said he was starting up a company and wanted to know if I would buy some from him. He had some family that owned a store a couple towns away called Lazy Daze, so I gave him the name Lazy Dave, I was his first sale, and Dark Star Glass was on the map.
One day Brian was in the store and I asked what he would charge to teach me. He gave me a price by the hour and told me to show up at his house the next day. I told him I would have to come early as I had to open the store by 10 am. I showed up at 7 o’clock and he answered the door in his underwear told me to go to the garage. He sat down and cut a four foot rod into a bunch of pieces and put them together and said “do what I just did. I’m going back to bed, close the garage door when you’re done”. He handed me five rods and I was on my own. Everyday was the same thing with a new lesson until I got my own torch. I was on my way to being a store owner and pipe maker.
A friend of mine hooked me up with a company called JAH Creations, back then we were lucky to get six tubes at a time. Then came Jerome Baker Designs a company that could send as much product as you could order. Grateful J’s was now the store that everyone talked about, “if you want glass in South Florida…Grateful J’s”. We prided ourselves on what we had available.
Fast forward to the year 2000, it was time to expand. “Let’s build a store with a studio so people can watch glass get made”, and the Boca Store was born. Blowers wanted to work there, young people wanted lessons, artists wanted to stop in and play. Shaggy Boley rented space. AJ Roberts came by to sell some glass and spent many days hanging out and teaching us techniques. Jeff Kasner and James Lang were were apprentices of mine that I now buy from and consider excellent artists.
In 2004 some circumstances in the industry forced us to remove the studio from the store and I went back to working in my off site studio and Grateful J’s needed to rebuild. We brought tattooing to the Margate store and adult toys and video replaced the in house studio. Management helped to rebuild the stores while most of my time was spent in the studio. You can see my work in the stores and also online. As we grew again so did the industry. Scientific glass and artwork became the rage and once again we couldn’t get enough. Names like 5150, Everest, Zong, Bluedot and Hitman helped to rebuild our brand. We searched for artwork by Salt, Ghost, Banjo and who ever else we could get. Doug from Hitman hooked us up with some major pieces and Grateful J’s was back in the game. Once again it was time to grow and we opened the Lake Worth store in May of 2010. Now it was all about the art. To many names to mention but we carry who I consider to be the best in the country. The work of these artist can be seen in our gallery pages. In may of 2012 we opened Pompano.