Applicant Nikant 87 Inc., represented by Attorney Michael Khoury, presented their petition to the Neighborhood Council at the July meeting to establish a retail store and glass blowing studio for tobacco and tobacco-related products at 87 Salem Street. The Council voted unanimously in opposition to the shop.
Watch the full video and follow along with the summary below.
(00:24) Attorney Michael Khoury listed the details of the application.
- The shop would be in full compliance with the requirements of Boston’s tobacco board.
- The doors would be continually locked and only those over the age of 21 would be allowed to enter.
- No smoking allowed within 25 feet of the building.
- It would sell tobacco & tobacco-related products, as well as have an artisan glass studio.
- The lease would run through 2023 with two additional five-year options.
- The shop owner, Mr. Patel, also owns City Smoke Shop at 324 Newbury Street.
The artist rendering below was presented to the Council and attendees, showing what was described as a slick and high-end shop.
Questions from the Council begin at 3:42. Major issues that were raised include how the shop fits into the character of the neighborhood, and what type of assurance there is that this won’t become a dispensary.
(4:47) The proponent responded that there are at least three other smoke shops in the area, and that in other neighborhoods in the city, high-end shops like this catering to adults are very successful and popular.
The Council expressed discomfort at the sale of glass products, particularly bongs (6:50). Mr. Patel explained that the business is first a tobacco shop. The glass blown studio would cater to skilled artisans from around the country. They would also sell vapor products. There would be no consumption on the premises and no marijuana. During the audience Q&A, Mr. Patel stated he will never sell marijuana, saying it is against the lease and his family’s religion (31:08).
Later in the meeting, the question of getting rid of the glass blowing and selling of those products was raised (14:30). Mr. Patel stressed that the glass part of the business is not just creating bongs, but also bowls and water glasses (18:08). He added that tobacco shops all have three components: business portion, vapor products and mechanics, and glass products. The Boston tobacco regulations recognize these as necessary for the success of this type of business.
(8:33) In expressing concern about the North End being a family neighborhood, the Council asked if the applicant would do anything to give back to the community to raise awareness about smoking. Mr. Patel stressed that this shop is catering more to vapor smoking. He said his company does have educational services that they would be providing to steer people away from cigarette tobacco toward vapor.
When asked how many other shops the applicant owns, he responded that this is a family business, not a chain. They have 25 shops, 15 of which are in New York.
(11:45) The Council then asked the question, “Why the North End?” The applicant replied that he has ten contracts out in Boston, including Downtown Crossing and Allston / Brighton. Attorney Khoury said this shop serves a certain market that meets the demographic in this area (13:40), which he later clarified as ages 25-50.
(15:40) There is currently no plan to have glass blowing classes. In the future, if the shop is approved and if the City and fire department would allow it, there could be classes. Right now, the applicant is only pursuing the retail shop.
Questions and statements from the audience begin at 21:00.
(21:48) One attendee questioned an earlier comment that vapor smoking is healthy. Mr. Patel clarified that it is not as harmful as cigarette smoking.
(24:48 & 29:10) Two abutters spoke out against the shop, expressing concerns about young kids using vapes. They also raised the issue of how the ‘no consumption within 25-feet of the building’ rule would impact residents across the street and nearby.
(32:50) The property owner commented on his decision to allow this tenant and the restrictions of the lease.
All voting council members voted against the smoke shop.