Riverdale Convenience Smoke Shop is the latest smoke shop to open up in greater Riverdale that is not in Kingsbridge. Despite the fact shop employees have told numerous customers it does not sell weed, several local residents and businesses have voiced concerns about the store that is right around the corner from Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
A good majority of these smoke shops have been opening up in the Kingsbridge area, but this one recently had its grand opening right on Riverdale Avenue. Before the business arrived, the store was a dry-cleaning and laundry store. If you were to take a step back from its storefront you could see the shop in frame with the school. At a quick glance the store looks like your average convenience store until you take a closer look.
The storefront reads that it sells beer, soda, candy and smoking products. Below the sign on the glass display are several colorful bongs lined up. The interior is again your average sleek looking store. You can buy brand chips, energy drinks and cleaning products.
An employee told The Riverdale Press you can purchase vapes, cigars and various other smoking products.
Of the businesses The Press spoke to regarding the new shop there was varying degrees of acceptance, indifference and rejection. There were those who see no difference with a liquor store being right around the corner and those who fear it will draw in the “wrong crowds.”
Arthur, who works on Riverdale Avenue, described the placement as “terrible” and doesn’t think it should be there. Jimmy, an employee at a restaurant across the street from the smoke shop has said that he has seen people smoking weed outside the area. There was also a time where weed could be smelled from inside the store. He said no customers have complained just yet though.
Jon, another employee at a restaurant on Riverdale Avenue, is not really concerned about any potential stenches. He said he does not mind the shop and does not really see it as anything new, saying some delis do the same thing.
Jaime, an employee at Larry The Locksmith and Hardware, said he didn’t see a problem with the store. He didn’t see much of a difference of there being a smoke store in front of the Riverdale strip as opposed to one on West 231st Street off Riverdale Avenue. One of his friends even asked if they were selling illegal stuff and they said, “No, we’re not doing that.” He said he doesn’t see the store going that route.
He said there’s a business that has voiced concerns to him about the store opening next to the relatively new restaurant, Tobalá, worried that it may drive customers away. Jaime does not feel the same way.
“You’ve got to think about it,” Jaime said.
“The person who opened up the smoke shop can be a family too. They’re trying their hand on some business they think they can be really good at.”
Jaime believes over time the smoke shop will be perceived as a regular store and has encouraged people to give it a shot.
Whether or not Riverdale residents do end up accepting the smoke shop will have to be seen. But if it has the success of smoke shops in Kingsbridge, it will not be surprising to see more stores pop up.