Retro Revolution began as a humble, 1800 square foot store in a little strip mall at 15th Street and Central Expressway in Plano, Texas. Although the inventory primarily consisted of counterculture fashion and home gifts, the storefront location allowed her to expand in an area that was growing with lightning speed in the DFW area: the smoking industry.
In 1997, after attending the New York Boutique Show, our owner began to carry a small line of glass pipes and smoking accessories. Due to the nature of the DFW area at the time, she was very discreet about it; she kept the pipes and accessories in a special case that she brought out only upon request.
At the new location, she followed the same model, but on a bigger scale. our owner didn’t want Retro Revolution to get pigeonholed as a “head shop”; she wanted to serve all of the needs of the Dallas counterculture niche. So she kept the smoking accessories off the radar—this time in a walk-in closet that was separated from the rest of the shop by a thick curtain.
Customers had to request a visit to the “pipe room.” After their ID was checked, they were escorted into the room by an employee, often our owner herself. The salesperson would listen to the customer’s needs and then display the appropriate merchandise on black velvet, like fine jewelry. Although an array of less-expensive pipes was available, Retro Revolution specialized in offering a variety of high-end Headdies—intricate glass pieces that were hand-blown by some of the finest artists in the industry. This was definitely not your typical head shop!
By 2001, Retro Revolution had outgrown the small space it started in and was bursting at the seams. Luckily, a space that was double the size of the original storefront became available right next door. our owner moved her store to that location in 2002, keeping the original concept of a separate pipe room but on a grander scale.
Often known as just “Retro” by its customers, the new store had a spacious boutique area in the front of the shop, with racks of hippie clothes and tapestries; cases brimming with vintage pieces, crystals, curios, and body jewelry; shelves filled with incense, home gifts, crystals, and mystical apparatus; and an extensive library of counterculture books, videos, and music. The walls were covered with artwork from around the world, and an assortment of exquisite light fixtures and art objects dangled from the ceiling.
The pipe room was expanded, too. Separated from the main store by double doors camouflaged with a graffiti-inspired mural, it now boasted multiple glass cases that could display the full range of pipes and smoking accessories that Retro now offered.
In 2006, Retro opened its second store on Lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas, Texas. Covered with graffiti-inspired murals inside and out, the Dallas store also boasted two rooms—one for boutique items and the other for smoking products.
Sadly, the beautiful new Dallas location was destined for a short run. In 2011, the property was purchased by a new landlord who wanted the space for himself. Retro Revolution was forced to move to a new location with very little advance notice. Fortunately, luck was with Retro again. The store quickly found a suitable home just down the street.
When looking for a new location, our owner realized that times had changed. The boutique portion of the store had become well-known for its wide range of high-quality products. The smoking counterculture was gaining acceptance by leaps and bounds. Retro no longer needed to minimize the exposure of the smoke-shop side of the business.
With this in mind, the layout of the new store departed from Retro Revolution’s two-room model. Now, the shop was all in one room, with the pipe and boutique areas separated by a central counter instead of a door. With all products located in the same room, the new Dallas location has a light, spacious atmosphere, resplendent with tapestries, counterculture art, and the delicious scent of nag champa incense penetrating everything.
Today, Retro Revolution has two stores as well as a warehouse in Richardson, Texas. The company employs almost 20 people and serves all the counterculture needs of the greater DFW area.
Moving forward, Retro will be taking things to the next level. That might be more stores, an online business, franchises, or some combination of the three. If the laws change in Texas, Retro might even expand into the area of medical caretaking.
One thing remains certain—Retro Revolution will continue to remain on the cutting edge of the counterculture industry, serving up high-quality, unique products to the customers we love!