What could you possibly find in a small shop covered with shocking green paint and street graffiti? A newly open shop in New Cross adds another peculiar novelty to the vibrant area, welcoming students, little old ladies and, well, the police.
This is what was once know as a ‘head shop’, what many saw as a dark, smelly and dodgy place with some hippies hanging around the corner. Surrounded by bizarre items ranging from 40p-flavored cigarette papers to a £60 penis-shaped vaporiser, Skunkworks shop manager Billy Davies, 28, explained the difference between Skunkworks and other similar shops around London.
“Bottom line, we avoid the negative images. We want to show to people that this is a professional business and they could trust us. We welcome everyone, even the police have stopped by to say hi,” he said.
Skunkworks itself is considered the biggest chain selling tobacco paraphernalia throughout the UK. The company has been operating for nine years with stores located all over South England.
As a first impression, doubts may be raised over the legality of the products sold. Products varying from aphrodisiacs to bongs, ashtrays to coloured contact lenses, all are sold to legally fulfill people’s odd lifestyles.
“All of the products here are strictly legal. As you can see, we put warning signs everywhere in the shop. No underage customers and especially no drunk people allowed to make transactions here,” Davies explained.
After six months, Skunkworks has already grabbed the attention of local people. “We were expecting customers between 25-35 years old, but what we got is far better, we got little old ladies becoming our regular customers, old men stopping by and telling us all these stories of their life. It’s relieving how friendly people are here in New Cross,” Davies said.
“What lies beneath the bad image of Skunkworks is a fun, healthy and most important – legal lifestyle. That’s what we want to offer,” he said.