CASSELBERRY – On a warm Saturday morning, a mother and her daughter could be found kneeling outside of three large metal cages.
The object of their interest was what was inside those cages: several large turtles that largely ignored the two spectators and focused instead on something else that had captured their attention, the hearty supply of lettuce available to munch on. The young girl, in particular, looked as if she could have spent most of the afternoon observing those turtles, even if they did move so slowly as to seem hardly capable of being entertaining for more than a few minutes.
It was appropriate, though, that the child managed to stay entertained outside by the turtle cages, because the shop that is home to those turtles would not have allowed her to come inside — even with a parent by her side.
“Must be 18 years old,” the sign on the front door notes. Then again, the shop is Pipe Dreams.
And as a combination of novelty store, adult entertainment shop, hookah lounge and old-fashioned “head shop,” it’s almost immediately clear to anyone who walks in the front door that this place is not designed for young people at all.
“Want some excitement? Toys this way,” a sign in the rear of the store teases. But those toys – which include bondage gear, whips, handcuffs and inflatable sex dolls – are hardly likely to put the likes of Toys R Us into panic mode.
A good portion of the store is devoted to all things sexual, from clothing items like slinky lingerie to DVDs like “Gangbang Auditions” and “Teen Tush.”
This section of Pipe Dreams also seems eager to appeal to an older segment of the swingers market, with a counter devoted to male sexual stimulant pills like Stiff Nights. Two pills are sold in a packet for $9.95, promising no disappointment to those older men who no longer have the same abilities as when they were 20.
There’s even an education DVD amongst the pills, called “A Man’s Guide to Stronger Erections: Overcoming Erectile Difficulties,” which includes a cover showing Grandpa and his vivacious young blonde lady friend.
But Pipe Dreams is not just another run-of-the-mill sex shop. In fact, the sexually-themed shelves seem secondary to the shop’s true raison d’etre: a seemingly endless array of imaginatively decorated glass pipes.
Head shops, of course, are theoretically supposed to be a smoker’s paradise, and Pipe Dreams sells it all: bags of fresh imported tobacco, rolling papers, scales, cigars and cigarettes in all flavors and varieties – even a hookah lounge to relax in while you inhale.
Still, it all raises the question: do folks really buy elaborately decorated glass pipes to use for smoking tobacco, when a simple cigar or cigarette would suffice?
It may be worth noting that web sites like Potsmoker.net advertise their favorite head shops online – a kind of consumer guide for those looking for something more specialized than the nearest Wal-Mart or Target Superstore.
Of course, the staff at Pipe Dreams will tell you they don’t sell anything illegal, either on the shelves or behind the counter. They even check I.D.s at the door for that all-important age requirement.
And it’s not all about smoking in this shop.
Many of the shelves at Pipe Dreams sell less adult-oriented novelty items, from an Animated Jazz Santa to pocket knives, antique bottles, scented candles and incense, toy cars, and soft drinks. One of the counters even has a glass container that is home to two adorable baby turtles.
There are other adult specialty items for sale, though, including The Whizz Kit, a “refillable urine novelty kit” for those who need to pass a drug test and worry that they can’t (the kits boast of giving false negative results for drug urinalysis tests), and so-called “Whip-It” chargers, which are filled with nitrous oxide and used by people to get an artificial high. These metal cylinders have become a popular recreational inhalant.
But it may be those smoking items that bring Pipe Dreams their biggest market share.
It’s believed that head shops originated in the 1960s as part of the counterculture movement, particularly in cities with plenty of college-age youth. Famous sites included St. Mark’s Place in New York City’s East Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.
Pipe Dreams, on the other hand, is located off U.S. 17/92 in Casselberry, just past O’Brien Road. It’s hardly located in what might be considered an adult or hippie district. There’s a Do It Yourself Pest Control store next door, and the Crossroads Baptist Church across the street.
Pipe Dreams is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 2 a.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. To learn more, call 407-331-7887.
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