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Shop closes its doors day after protest

Jennifer Sprouse • Feb 24, 2012 at 10:07 PM

Ultimate Smoke, a shop near where students from Daniel Boone High School protested Thursday, has decided to shut its doors in Gray.

Scott Buckingham, assessor of property for Washington County and part owner of the building with PBK Enterprises, said Friday the Ultimate Smoke shop owners decided to close their doors, which he believed was in part to the uproar of protests from Daniel Boone students Thursday afternoon.

Buckingham said when the shop had first inquired about settling in Gray, he said they were led to believe the shop would be a discount tobacco store, but soon discovered that it was what he called a head shop.

“Once we realized that he was doing that, we were wanting him to do away with the lease, or let him out of his lease, and wanting him to move, because we don’t condone that,” he said. “We don’t want anybody in our building that does do that type of stuff.”

Buckingham said they started the legal process to try to get the shop removed from the rental space. He also noted they would have never leased the space to Ultimate Smoke had they known the store intended on selling synthetic drugs.

“We don’t want to rent to anybody that is a nuisance like that and it became a nuisance to the other tenants as well,” he said.

Buckingham said he would like the state to step in to help control the distribution of these drugs.

“I would like to see the state take some type of quick action, as far as making it illegal to sell this type of thing to our children,” Buckingham said.

Buckingham said the owners of Ultimate Smoke decided to close the shop in Gray on their own, but still firmly suspects the protest from Thursday had a lot to do with the owners’ decision to close.

While the store has been closed to any further sales, students from Daniel Boone were out again Friday, protesting the drugs.

Kelsey McGuire, a student from Daniel Boone and one of the organizers of the protests, said hearing the store was closing was just what she and others protesting hoped to accomplish.

“It felt great that we had accomplished what we’re here to do,” McGuire said. “That’s one down and there’s so many more to go.”

McGuire said she has personally contacted Gov. Bill Haslam’s office hoping to express her concern over synthetic drugs in the community with him, and urges those wanting to get involved to start making phone calls.

Jason Catoe, the owner of Ultimate Smoke, was unavailable for comment, but a store employee from the Kingsport store confrmed the Gray store was closed for business. The employee declined to give his name.

As the Gray store ceases its operation, the main Ultimate Smoke shop located in Kingsport is still open for business.

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