Destioney Pinkham is a powerful, sharp-witted, and wicked friendly Maine woman. As the owner of Rip Tide Smoke Shop in Belfast, Destioney is young, but already making a positive impact on her community: after being open for just 2 years, Destioney’s shop won Business of the Year for Waldo County. Based on her early success and contagiously confident attitude, it’s likely that there’ll be more awards in the future for this Maine woman in cannabis.
Destioney Pinkham: Beginnings
Destioney was introduced to cannabis early in life. Her mother, an avid marijuana user, never hid her use of the plant from her children, and so for Destioney, cannabis was somewhat normal. So normal, in fact, that she never took much interest in it.
In her teens, when the pressure was on to indulge in alcohol, cannabis, and drugs, Destioney chose to abstain. Because a close family member had a serious drug problem, and thanks to the brainwashing of the DARE program, Destioney associated cannabis with the dangerous lifestyle this family member was living. Destioney didn’t want to be part of that lifestyle, so she deliberately stayed away from cannabis.
But by age 19, Destioney was essentially the only person among her friends and family that didn’t use cannabis. At the time, she’d been experiencing bouts of depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Destioney reasoned that, if everyone else in her life was using cannabis, then she was associated with it by default whether she liked it or not. And if it was a potential tool that could alleviate her ailments, then there really was no reason to exclude the plant from her personal life.
From that point forward, Destioney joined the green majority.
Destioney Pinkham: Early Days of Cannabis Work
A hard worker and a fastidious student, Destioney worked at a smoke shop in Biddeford while pursuing a double major in Communications and Media. She particularly liked working with fine and unusual glass pieces, and found that she took joy from working with the public in this regard.
During a conference trip hosted by her college, Destioney found herself at a glass exposition, and it was there that she made the decision to open her own smoke shop. After working in the Biddeford shop for 2 years, she had often thought that a better experience for customers could be created, so she set out to make that happen. As she told this author during a recent interview:
I wanted the whole ‘do what you love, and you’ll never work a day’ kind of thing. I liked people, and I liked selling things, nice things; particularly glass.
Rip Tide Smoke Shop
For the next year, Destioney took most of her small weekly paycheck from the Biddeford smoke shop and used it to buy stock for the store she planned. She ordered hand-made glass pipes, bongs, and dab rigs, and watched as piles of boxes grew in precarious rows along the wall in her bedroom. Cases of rolling papers, boxes of screens and stems and bowl-pieces and everything else that a cannabis aficionado could need teetered in piles like rickety skyscrapers rising from her bedroom floor.
Even after a year of saving and stockpiling product, Destioney knew she didn’t have enough to fill the storefront she’d leased, but she opened anyway.
“I really wanted to create some cannabis culture,” she said, “and I wanted to share art and meds with people. I was ready, even though the shop technically wasn’t.”
Rip Tide Smoke Shop opened in October of 2014. Destioney recalled the half-empty glass display cases and the early feeling that things might not go well, but those fears turned out to be unfounded;
“People came, you know; we talked, they bought glass, they left happy and they returned later. They told their friends, and every time someone came in to buy a new piece, I’d take most of the money they paid and re-invest it in more gear for the shop.”
And that is Destioney’s modus operandi;
I just want people to come back.
To that end, Destioney’s Rip Tide Smoke Shop stands worlds-apart from other head shops in Maine. Destioney allows customers to negotiate the price of items, she permits payment plans and “layaways,” and she’ll hold items for people who want something, but just can’t get it now for one reason or another.
She also encourages people to engage with her about any item;
“It’s rewarding to have conversations with people about why something is so expensive. I like to have that discussion; to educate the customer about why a piece is so special or unique, and to describe the value of the materials and workmanship of a piece. When people understand something, they give it so much more value.”
Rip Tide Smoke Shop showcases hand-crafted items from 16 different local and artisan glass workers. Now nearing its 4th year in business, the shop is nearly full to the point of being overcrowded with high-quality cannabis and hemp products. From pipes and bongs to rolling trays and papers, high-tech electronic vaporizers and cartridges, stash boxes and cases, shirts and hats, and some other more outlandish products like skateboards, clocks, and charms and chimes, this one-room shop is also a one-stop shop.
The Future for Destioney Pinkham
On most days, it’s Destioney herself that will greet you if you go to Rip Tide. She also works with her girlfriend, Brittany, who has been manning the shop for more than a year. In the future, the shop might expand, or it might open an additional location. But for now, Destioney is happy right where she is. After all, this isn’t really a job for her; she found a way to do what she loves, so to her, she hasn’t worked a day in 4 years.
Here’s to hoping there’ll be many more “work-free” years to come for Destioney Pinkham.
Do you know Destioney Pinkham? Have you been to Rip Tide Smoke Shop in Belfast, Maine? Let us know your experience in the comments section below!