Unique Tobacco and Accessories has gotten the cold shoulder from some residents who denounce it as being a head shop since it opened its doors on School Street in early September.
"This is a slap in the face of our community, its children, not to mention to the tireless SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment) agency," Zefy Christopoulos wrote in her Patch blog post Sept. 4.
The long, narrow store is lined with a glass case on one side and shelving on the other. Bob Marley and black light posters, stickers, and patches are displayed alongside glass water pipes and ornate hookahs behind large signs reading "for tobacco use only."
Owner Arshad Choudhry maintains that he does not sell anything illegal and does not sell substances such as bath salts or synthetic marijuana. He also denied rumors that his store would be opening a hookah lounge.
Choudhry was dismayed at the backlash from the community and said he is a legitimate businessman.
"It's just a normal tobacco shop," he said. "Everything in my store exists in Glen Cove and the surrounding areas, I just organized my store in a different way."
Choudhry said he diligently abides by laws which prohibit sale to minors and does not wish to encourage illegal drug use in the community. He also said that, although he primarily sells products for tobacco use, he also sells quitting aids such as electronic cigarettes.
"I will respect the community," he said. "I just want to make a decent living and this is a first time business. If unintentionally anything came into the store which influences drug use, I will take it off the shelves. Again. I promise I will not intentionally do anything which hurts people or violates the law."