The Glassworks is a long-standing establishment on South Main St.
WILKES-BARRE – With the legalization of the use of medical cannabis in the state, as well as the influx of new cannabis and hemp products, such as Delta 8 and 9 THC, CBD and many other remedies plant-based, the need for glassware, among other necessities, has never been higher.
Fortunately, Utopia, 82 S. Main St., at the intersection of South Main and East Northampton streets, has been providing precisely what one may need to remedy many ailments since the 90s.
Current owner Bob McCulloch, 43, of Hunlock Creek, was a longtime employee before taking over a decade ago.
“The previous owners, when they were looking to get out of the game, they asked a couple of their employees and I took over,” McCulloch said.
And things were going well for years, until March 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had to close from March, and I believe until August. September is when we reopened,” he explained. That’s quite a long layoff for a small local business.
McCulloch explained that the store’s clientele is constantly changing and rotating. “A client you have at 18, you can have them at 28, 38 or 48, but chances are you’ll lose those people by the time they’re 25, 26, 27. We’re used to to this cycle and that (the pandemic) just sort of cut that cycle off. We felt compelled to kickstart our customer base. He further explained that with downtown office workers moving away and the students from King’s and Wilkes campuses doing the same, it was a real struggle to overcome.
“It’s a lot less blue and yellow and red and gold downtown than I’ve seen in the past,” he said, referring to the colors of the institutions.
However, McCulloch and his team were able to secure funding thanks to a warning from the Diamond City Partnership. Although the funds were originally given as a loan, he was happy to say, “We just got a letter saying it’s just been forgiven.”
Now, with the half of 2022 looming in the distance, things have certainly started to look up and move in a better direction.
“I wouldn’t say things are totally back to normal in terms of sales,” McCulloch said, “But as far as the store goes, our primary focus was employee and customer safety. So first , I came back and I was doing things on my own, and then, you know, as unemployment was running out, that’s when we were like, ‘Okay, we wanted our people are safe and now they lack help.’”
At this point, McCulloch began to bring his four-person crew back to work.
He spoke about being a single father of two children and how the return of staff not only allows his fatherly functions, but also the store to operate for longer hours, allowing more customers to enter. who maybe couldn’t because of work schedules or things like that.
“Instead of being open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., well, now we could be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., so people who would arrive here before or after work could come,” McCulloch said. “So while sales are coming back, they’re not quite where they were, the rest of the store functions have been able to come back that way.”
In the future, McColloch hopes to continue to offer premium products, such as local or national mouth-blown glassware, as well as do some more advertising. “Sometimes we feel like we have to remind people that we’re here,” he said. He came up with an idea he was working on with a local coffee roaster for a “take-out” window, for locals on the go, but the finer details are still under wraps.
“We see ourselves as more than just a smokehouse and we really want to expand our offering,” he said.
While McCulloch acknowledged that you can go to almost any convenience store these days and buy glassware, he encourages people not to. “We research our products. We are a specialty store. So if that’s something you’re interested in, come see us. We will be able to tell you everything about the artists. We are going to be able to tell you about the style of glass blowing they used to create it. And the same goes for the other products we offer.
He also added that his staff know about other herbal products.
“If you want someone to talk about CBD or Delta 9 or Delta 8, and all the different cannabinoids, we’re somewhere you can come and talk about it. We are going to give you the best possible information to help you determine which products will be best for you.
Utopia only offers legal medicinal plants and does not sell any tobacco products. They also offer shipping if needed. You can find Utopia on Facebook at Utopia Glass Shop or Instagram at utopiawb or call 570-208-2225. Utopia is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.