Take A Smoke/Sneak A Toke
Take a Smoke (https://takeasmoke.com/) is an online business
We also do wholesale and, assorted select stores have our products. Our Sneak A Toke pipes offer a discreet way of smoking herbs. We call them stealth smoking pipes. Our Sneak a Toke pipes are extremely compact, smokeless, and self extinguishing pipes. This makes them the perfect pipe to put in your pocket or purse after you’ve taken your puff. This is the current version of our Original Sneak A Toke. The first pipe Ted, the designer/owner came out with. Since then, in 1976, it has been modified many times. Ted is always in search of new and better pipes. Stealth smoking is the basis of all of our Sneak A Toke pipes.
A little history on the Sneak A Toke pipe at Take A Smoke and the founder, Ted Borden
The year was 1976. The very first head shops started opening about 5 or 10 years before and were popping up here and there. Fascinating places that reeked of incense, with tie-dyed t shirts, headbands, wide bell bottom blue jeans and other assorted hippie-wear and accessories and display racks filled with smoking pipes. The pipes of the day were mostly metal or wood hand pipes and water pipes of acrylic or ceramic.
Neighborhood record shops that sold vinyl albums were adding racks of pipes and rolling papers to augment their business.
A friend brought me a very compact, fully enclosed pipe that he had fashioned out of some automotive tools and parts. We tried it and it was amazing!
I said to him excitedly “we can sell these”. He replied unexcitedly “go ahead”. So I set off on a journey to figure out how to take a prototype and turn it into a quantity of finished manufactured pieces. On a tight budget.
It just so happens that as I went to submit this article for possible publication, my 19 year old home furnace decided it had had enough of life and entered ‘hospice’ on its way to its final end which will be this Saturday.
This is the Chicago area and normally our temperatures in late March can be pretty cold but through divine intervention at 4:20 AM (swear to God, LOL!) as I write this, the outside temp is a balmy 25F and somehow the temperature inside is 64F.
I wanted to relay this incident that both interested and delighted me.
The young sales person that came to the house to give me my options and a price for a shiny new furnace as well as a new A/C unit, ’cause what the hell’. That thing is over 15 years old itself and heating and A/C companies have to eat too, he happened to see one of my pipes which is not too hard considering I work out of my house and they are all over the place. He saw one and brought joy to my heart as he asked “is that a Sneak A Toke?” Thank God! A young person that actually knew the proper name of my product.
We began to talk and he related stories of his misspent youth and how my Sneak A Toke was an integral part of his earlier life. It brought a warm feeling to my heart that he knew the actual name. A minor mission of mine is try to to re-educate people to the name actually belonging to the product and more importantly, to my specific product. Most people call a Puffs facial tissue a Kleenex but it’s actually a ‘kleenex’. Just like I am the only Sneak A Toke while all the others are ‘sneak a tokes’ knockoffs.
Challenges along the way to marketing this innovative product
Eventually I was able to have a thousand of the basic components produced or procured and began selling them at local shops and to a few distributors. I named the product Sneak A Toke Pipe.
Now, you might think ‘get a patent’. You really can’t get a patent.
At the time it would have cost about $10K. And unless it’s been changed, you were only eligible to file for a patent for one year after the date you sold your first piece. Patents are for companies like General Electric or Ford or Apple or Microsoft. Companies that have teams of patent attorneys on their payroll, not usually the small businessperson operating on a ‘shoestring’. The big mistake I did make, which would have been much cheaper, was to not trademark the name Sneak A Toke.
Problems faced along the way…
My particular venture had a problem that not many entrepreneurs face. The substance that was typically smoked through my pipe was illegal. Then, beginning in the ’80’s the pipes themselves became illegal.
I changed the product name to Take A Smoke and the entire industry changed the “intention” of the use of our products to be strictly for the smoking of legal substances like tobacco. Head shops became smoke shops or tobacco shops. Many added appropriate items like pipe tobacco and traditional briar and meerschaum pipes. It became accepted that if you were to ask for a “hash pipe” or “bong” in one of these stores you were immediately shown the door since you had demonstrated an illegal intent putting both yourself and the store in legal jeopardy.
Fortunately, enforcement of the laws was very sporadic but still anxiety inducing for the following couple decades for those in the industry.
Then in 1996 a ray of light showed, that California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis. Others followed and in 2012, Colorado became the first to legalize it recreationally. Today about 3/4 of states have legalized it medicinally and almost half recreationally.
You would think that this would be a boon to business for those of us who stuck with it and while it relieved the anxiety, even though federal, state and local “drug paraphernalia” laws are still on the books, it also opened the floodgates to new products on the market. New means of cannabis consumption, edibles and vaping have narrowed the target market.
We started back calling our product the Original Sneak A Toke but a new, young generation of smokers call it a “bullet” or a “zeppelin” or a “one hitter”. That’s one of the drawbacks of not being allowed to own your brand, something I would strongly advise if you are able.
Over the last dozen years or so, we began to re-engineer our original design removing many of the bugs.
Although there are many knock-offs of our Sneak A Toke on the market, our older and newer designs are far superior.
Our latest invention is the High Efficiency Sneak A Toke Pipe
It has an interchangeable Dry Herb Cartridge. This removable cartridge self-carburates, which causes herbs to burn more fully and evenly. The easily interchangeable cartridges mean that someone can smoke different varieties in the same pipe. You can see it in action on Youtube.
The opportunities the business/market is facing
The smoking accessories industry has a lot of new ground still to be broken. Young people are more cannabis friendly than previous generations while those previous generations are reaching their expiration dates, so the demographics are slowly shifting to favor the genre. Federal legalization of cannabis is being talked about, which was never the case in years past. Initially, with all the increased competition in the current landscape, startup ventures will be difficult but if a new business is well positioned in terms of location, superior customer service and having sufficient capital to get beyond this period, that would increase a business’s chance of success.
Advice to others about business
Think carefully about how you allot your available funds. A new venture’s chances are dramatically improved with a sufficient cash cushion. You can be sure your fixed expenses like rent and utilities will always be there and you can pretty much count on them increasing over time but the cash coming in cannot be depended on. Spend your available cash wisely would be my best advice.
New product coming soon
We will soon be introducing colored rubber mouthpieces. They will be the same color as the pipes. We hope to have them online within a couple of weeks. Ted loves to innovate and have fun while working. This includes working on new projects!
You can see our whole line at takeasmoke.com.
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