A Knoxville store, billed as "the largest head shop in the southern U.S.," will open their doors Friday -- not without some controversy from neighbors.
The 4,800 square foot Smoker's Paradise, will be located off Alcoa Highway in South Knoxville. The company is based in Morristown, and provides tobacco, incense, and adult novelties.
"We're getting our merchandise in. We're getting our stock shelved. We'll be ready," said manager Lisa Sweet, as the building, a former liquor store, is being transformed into a head shop.
Other products include glass pipes, material that the shop's owners claim is not to be used for narcotic purposes.
"All of our pipes are strictly used for tobacco use, and what we do is provide a service for the people of Knoxville for the stuff that they need," said co-owner Rob Boone.
However, some neighbors are skeptical about those plans.
"If you know anyone that's involved in the background drug activity, a lot of these shops are simply an opportunity to promote that," said Pastor Mark Kirk with Calvary Chapel Knoxville, located a few hundred yards away from the smoke shop.
He feared it would cause a lot of trouble and concern for his congregation.
"It's obviously going to draw in more drug activity to our area, which brings crime and other kinds of problems," Pastor Kirk added.
The shop denies those claims. Managers said the building has heightened security to patrol for any possible drug activity, and does not sell any drugs or synthetic drugs.
During our visit Tuesday, we did find many items with such references. Also, according to their press release, they're holding a grand opening on April 20. According to their press release, "We plan on celebrating April 20th (4-20) in a big way. It's sort of our Birthday and Grand Opening all rolled into one."
So whether it's controversial or not, it still plans to launch a soft open this week.
"If you seen it on TV, we have it. If you haven't seen it on TV, we have it," said manager Sweet.
Smoker's Paradise has another location in Kodak that opened last year. According to Boone, that opening faced criticism as well, but added those fears quickly died down.