The first time I walked into SE Hawthorne's Third Eye Shoppe, I spent well over an hour looking at the walls of pipes, bongs, and assorted glassware that would soon consume a sizable portion of my meager weekly paycheck.
I was shy and quiet and Southern, and when I came to Portland I felt very much the stranger in a strange land. (Why don't any of you use an umbrella? What the hell is the deal with this Tom Peterson dude? Must we all wear plaid?) Third Eye made me feel welcome, even when I would ramble on with the staff for 20 minutes about this new tool being used in Canada called a "vaporizer," how flavored rolling papers were an abomination, and which local glass blower did the best work.
They would always throw in extra screens with my purchases, steer me towards better choices (maybe I didn't really need the $350 piece when a $75 one would do the job), and generally made me feel welcome and heard in a new city.
Third Eye remained my go-to store for all these years, and they took the time to special order parts and pieces for my growing collection of aforementioned vaporizers. They've been a great touchstone—something consistent in a city that is changing at a breathtaking, and often heartbreaking, way.
But change is inevitable in all things, and last week it was announced by owner Mark Herer that Third Eye was closing, and the building had been sold to a condo developer for a million dollars.
To say this has left me blue is an understatement.
I've shopped at other head shops, and while the selection and prices are fine, the interactions with the staff have comparatively left something to be desired. In general I feel more tolerated than welcomed, and my attempts are conversation about new gear are meet with bored indifference. (This doesn't ONLY happen in head shops, but never mind that for now.)
Beginning tomorrow (Saturday, March 25) and running through the end of the month (Friday, March 31), the Third Eye will be having a blow-out party. Everything will be for sale, and offers are welcome. I plan to go one last time, as sad as that will be. A huge thanks to Mark and the staff for making me feel like Portland could be home all those years ago. Now it is, and I'm going to miss one of the things that made it so.
The Third Eye Shoppe, 3950 SE Hawthorne