Detour

Streetwear, Home Goods and Bongs: How Mister Green Became the Coolest Head Shop in California


June 27, 2020 Style By
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This story is part of our Summer Preview, a collection of features, guides and reviews to help you navigate warmer months ahead.

Opened in 2015, Mister Green Life Store is a far cry from the dusty Rasta-themed head shops of yesteryear. The airy, minimalist cannabis destination is decked out in natural wood, offering everything but the flower — think investment-worthy home goods and the kind of clothing you’d find in a streetwear blog, not a middle schooler’s closet.

“For people who have more interest in design, we offer something that they may be able to take home versus some place like a bong shop on Hollywood Boulevard,” says the shop’s founder, Ariel Stark-Benz, who moved from New York to Los Angeles via Tokyo to start the brand.

Mister Green started, like many contemporary brands, as an online store with no brick-and-mortar presence. Stark-Benz curated an innovative selection of products for the store along with an in-house line of home goods and clothing. The wears — both tasteful and subversive — immediately spoke to a new generation of weed lovers, one that may not have been old enough to see Jerry Garcia perform live.

Illustration: Joe McKendry

So when the original Mister Green Life Store opened up on Fountain Ave. in East Hollywood, the interior reflected a fresh, iconoclastic vision of what a head shop could be. It was bright and open with displays crafted from plywood and cinder blocks. In a nod to the six months Stark-Benz spent perusing shops in Japan, the goods were allowed to speak for themselves, accented only by a few quirky cannabis-tangential collectibles.

In early 2020, Stark-Benz moved the store further east to L.A.’s Silverlake neighborhood. He kept the unfussy layout and natural wood aesthetic — this time plywood also replaces panels in the two-room storefront’s drop ceiling. Sculptural bongs from San Francisco’s Summerland Ceramics sit near Mister Green’s own line of T-shirts, sweats and accessories. The brand’s latest collection — called “coastal things” — references ’60s counterculture, ’80s surf culture and Los Angeles in the ’90s, among other things.

And while the shop has changed locations and expanded inventory, it still manages to create and foster a refreshingly fresh take on weed culture. “I still love that aspect,” Stark-Benz says. “We are celebrating something that is technically still a criminal act in so many places, but that people have always found community and bonding through.”

In stock: Alterior Design, Mister Green, Satta, Summerland Ceramics, Tsubota Pearl

A version of this story originally appeared in a print issue of Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today.

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John Zientek

John Zientek is Gear Patrol's style editor and in-house guitar authority. He grew up on the West Coast.

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