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Smokin Gems owner reflects on opening business during the pandemic


Smokin Gems owner Katie Gem poses in the smoke and disk golfing shop Aug. 25.

A new business is a large undertaking in and of itself. One local owner has taken the challenge head-on during a crisis that’s changed the way businesses are run.

Katie Angelos the owner of Smokin Gems in downtown Mount Pleasant acquired her business in April, but because of COVID-19, she was unable to open her doors until July 3. 

Smokin Gems is a headshop and disc golf destination in downtown Mount Pleasant. They also carry products ranging from incense to candles, trendy clothing items and tapestries for the dorm room or apartment.

“Covid has definitely put things at a very, very slow pace,” Angelos said. “I feel like people aren’t being welcomed into businesses right now and that’s what I’d like to change for us here.”

Angelos tried to create an inviting environment under coronavirus circumstances. She provides masks for customers and organizes her store to comply with social distancing. Angelos said she doesn't want to turn customers away and deter business.

Another headshop called Blue in the Face used to occupy the space that now holds Smokin Gems. Angelos wants customers to know her shop carries the same great products.

Because of the delayed start of the season, Angelos has not been able to carry out her full plans for the shop.

“Once business gets rolling and Covid-19 regulations start to push back, we want to be able to bring skateboards in,” Angelos said. “I do see more people on wheels than on foot and it seems to be a big request for downtown.”

Angelos wants to take a cautious approach to how her shop is being run. Along with COVID-19 regulations, Angelos also has to deal with the recent change of the smoking age law, from age 18 to 21. 

“Being here since July, I’ve seen a recent influx of CMU students coming in," Angelos said. “It stinks having customers leave empty-handed, I think the law has really thrown some people in a loop and that’s disappointing.”

Angelos said she wants to make Smokin Gems a downtown staple -- that includes being involved in the community.  She envisions the shop sponsoring local disc golf tournaments and other events to raise money for charities and local causes. 

“I’m a single mom and with COVID-19, with my son having to be home all the time, trying to open a business during this time was very difficult, but I can’t say it’s not been fruitful and exciting all at the same time,” Angelos said.

Smokin Gems is located at 217 S Main St. in downtown Mt. Pleasant. Their business hours are 12 P.M. – 6 P.M. Tues. – Sat.

The Smokin Gems shop is located at 217 S. Main St.