It’s another beautiful day in sunny Venice Beach, California and friends Bob Silverman and Edwin Marsh Adair III (Captain Ed) need a pack of Zig Zags. This story begins in 1967, a time when purchasing your preferred rolling papers was more challenging than it is today. According to Ed, the closest place to score some Zig Zags is across town in Van Nuys. Their destination, a smoke shop called Heads & Highs, is twenty miles away and “the 405” won’t be fully completed until 1969. Like many iconic stories, this historic adventure begins with a quest. Ed and Bob set out on a cross-town journey, a trip that will change their lives forever.
Later that day, Bob and Ed arrive at Heads & Highs. Stepping inside, the marvelous twosome pass through beaded curtains, stepping through thick clouds of incense smoke and into their futures. The soulful hardwood floors are the only surfaces not covered with psychedelia. Feeling right at home, Bob turned to Ed and asked, “How much do you think it would cost to buy a place like this?” The hippy owner, overhearing Bob’s question replied, “This place is for sale”. Bob and Ed decided to purchase the shop, leading to a lifestyle of fast times and unforgettable relationships.
Their new lives as smoke shop co-owners offered a unique personal trajectory. Every day presented another opportunity to interact with the remarkable hippy community. The original agreement was that Ed would work behind the counter during the day and Bob, who was still working in the wholesale electric supply industry, would work nights and weekends. Their friendship continued to blossom while Bob, under Ed’s nonconformist tutelage, became immersed in the hippy lifestyle. They both loved having a good time, but also valued real customer service, going above and beyond to ensure their patrons felt like family. Ed was always overflowing with charisma and loved to chat up the customers. One day a gentleman named Jack Herer walked into their shop. Ed greeted Jack with the same compassionate and welcoming tone he extended to every customer. The two kindred spirits quickly hit it off eventually becoming activist leaders and lifelong friends. Heads and Highs was at the center point of the original hippy movement, paving the way for thousands of future inventors and entrepreneurs.
In 1980 the Feds forced the shop to change its name. The “Just Say No” campaigns were in full effect and the government felt that the name Heads & Highs insinuated drug use. No one was happy about the imposed name change, but Ed and Bob decided that Captain Ed’s was an appropriate fit. The shop has thrived ever since, serving the community for 47 years and counting, making it the oldest head shop in America! Bob and Ed have since passed but their legacy lives on under the guidance of current owner, (and Bob’s son) Darin.
The family business has grown since the early days, adding additional locations in Reseda and North Hollywood. One thing that hasn’t changed is the underlying commitment to warm and engaging customer service. The staff at Captain Ed’s take pride in helping their patrons, and it’s not uncommon for customers to find themselves enthralled in rich conversation with employees. This level of courtesy was always a big part of Bob and Ed’s core values. Come as you are, Captain Ed’s is “the people’s head shop”.
Captain Ed’s expansion into heady glass began in 2012. Darin was reassessing the company and knew that it was time for them to do something totally new. Despite the exorbitant costs associated with dealing in heady glass, Darin knew that an all-heady outlet was just the change that Captain Ed’s needed.
Two weeks later, the Reseda location was presented with the serendipitous opportunity to lease the soon-to-be-vacant neighboring tenant space. This additional square footage would allow Captain Ed’s to open a fully dedicated heady glass gallery next door. Exhibiting heady glass creates a professional marketplace for priceless art, and Captain Ed’s is proud to be at the forefront of this pivotal movement. This adaptable industry is sitting on the cusp of historical transformation, and Captain Ed’s, a leading cultural institution, continues to support and and advance the same scene it helped create nearly five decades ago.
The Gallery at Captain Ed’s was honored to have Darby as their pioneer exhibitor. The show was a smashing success, solidifying the demand for high-end glass work. The Gallery is already booked through the new year, and anticipates that the 2015 exhibit spots will fill up fast. Artists and enthusiasts love that the San Fernando Valley finally has this much needed exhibition space. Be on the lookout for stunning upcoming shows featuring Burl Savage in June, BMFT in August, Seth B October, Adam Reetz (tentatively) in November, and Lord closing out 2014 with a December show. Glass artists interested in exhibiting are encouraged to contact Captain Ed’s via Facebook. You can find more information about upcoming (and past) shows, shop the heady gallery, or purchase scientific glass and accessories by visiting Captain Ed’s website: www.captainedsshoppe.com
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If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by one of Captain Ed’s three locations!
7011 Reseda Boulevard
Reseda, CA 91335-4209
6704 Van Nuys Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91405-4619
4838 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 985 3222