We hear it constantly; “support local businesses” but from a consumer standpoint does this really benefit us? Does it really make a difference in the grand scheme of things?
When buying heady glass there are so many options now, but there are a few quick and easy ways to tell where your glass is coming from. The easiest way is simply to ask. Most owners who support local are proud to do so and will be happy to tell you. If they avoid the question or change the subject it’s a pretty good indiction the glass shop doesn’t support local.
Many people are unaware of where their water pipes, rigs, bubblers etc. come from and who’s pockets they are putting money into when they make a purchase; but the truth is there is a massive difference between glass blown by Canadian and American artists and glass that is mass produced overseas and imported.
When buying items from overseas the first things you will notice is the quality difference - thinner glass, cheaply made in mass amounts in factories. As well as often being thinly painted to mimic the look of coloured glass without having to use it.
These products are made for quantity not quality and it shows. Personally I have never had one of these units last me more than a month or so. The only thing I would possibly recommend them for is camping or any other activity you don’t plan on bringing it home from. However as a much more environmentally friendly alternative for camping, festivals, hikes and road trips I would definitely recommend looking into silicone bongs and bubblers. Unbreakable, easy to take apart and clean and no need to replace it after every use.
As for the longer lasting pieces you plan to smoke out of everyday, nothing compares to buying local. You get hand made unique pieces that last and hold their value. You can see the artistry in every single piece and you can tell these local glass blowers truly love what they do. From the larger pieces like bongs and rigs down to the smaller pieces caps, cleaning stations, accessories and even jewelry! You can see the artistry in every single one of a kind piece. Plus you get the added bonus of being able to follow the artists on social media and keep up with what they are doing and any new pieces in the works!
You may wonder why people buy imported pieces at all with so many reasons not to. Most of the time they are not labeled as imported, but there are a few simple ways to tell. One major tell is the thickness of the glass, imported pieces generally are significantly thinner than locally blown to save money. Another thing I have seen a lot with imported pieces is often times the bottoms are not completely flat due to a lack of quality control. You will notice they sit with a slight lean or tilt giving your piece less stability and often leading to tipping and breaking in the long run. Generally speaking, if the price for the size seems to good to be true it probably is.
While buying an imported piece may save you money that day, in the long run it will cost you much more due to having to constantly replace the easily breakable glass. Also when buying local you get the added bonus of knowing you are putting your money back into our economy by supporting these artists who put time and love in every piece they make.
The craftsmanship and care that goes into locally blown pieces shows in the time they last. Especially now with safe and excellent cleaners like Quartzsaver you can keep your pieces looking the same as the day you bought them off the shelf. Many people end up with large collections of beautifully blown local glass because not only is it a device to smoke out of but a legitimate work of art.
It also speaks volumes to the character of the owners of local shops whether they choose to buy overseas to save themselves a little bit of extra cash or they choose to support these artists and put that money back into the local economy.
Ultimately when buying the decision is up to you, but you have already taken the important first step of being informed about where your money is going and who you are supporting. Happy shopping!