Exceptional Retailer Vol 57: 20 Past 4

01
Jun

THE PEOPLE

20 Past 4 and More has four shops in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. They’re built on two important ideas: keep it local and give people more than a typical smoke shop

In the Indianapolis area, there’s a bustling chain of smoke shops that’s grown from one tiny shop to four. It sells quality glass, supports its local artists and offers a wide variety of products.

And perhaps above all, it has a very noble mission according to one of the shop’s managers.

“I just want people not to look at us as stoners,” says Kevin O’Dor. “We’re productive members of society.”

Meet the crew at 20 Past 4 and More, a cleverly named string of shops that has two locations in Indianapolis and two more a couple hours away in Fort Wayne. Each shop has a little bit of its own flavor. Each is successful in its own right. But together, they’re a good example of what can happen when a group of passionate people get together and try to be better than the average smoke shop.

“We’re trying to change the game for everybody,” O’Dor says. “We want to show what we feel a headshop should be like. It’s our vision, from when we were young, we’re trying to give you what we would have wanted.”

The chain started when owner Jonathan Miller bought a Fort Wayne smoke shop in 2005. He’s also the man behind 13 Glass. Miller changed the name to 20 Past 4 and More. Like many shops just starting out, it was small and needed some time to build up. But soon, through hard work, will power and good marketing, the shop started to take off.

Sales soared to the point that 20 Past 4 and More was able to open a second location in 2007, this time over in Indianapolis. That’s the Broad Ripple location, which is smack dab in the middle of Indy’s bar scene. Managed by Gabbie Brisard, it caters to college kids and is close to a popular music bar called The Mousetrap, allowing the two businesses to partner for concerts and events.

In 2008, a third location was opened. This one was on Broadway Avenue in Fort Wayne and had a different feel than the others. It was two floors with a big focus on water pipes and heady glass. It also sells tattoo supplies, glass-blowing materials and spray paint.

“That’s the ‘And More’ of it,” says O’Dor, who runs that shop. “We try to live up to that.”

The fourth location came soon after, back in Indianapolis’ Southside. It also includes adult movies and toys, but also a thriving under-18 side focused on smoking supplies and accessories. It’s managed by Megan Klee.

And that first shop that started small? It’s much bigger now, of course. It’s the “boom and hustle” of the four shops, with lots of foot traffic under the watchful eye of manager Craig Knaub.

“We’re always growing,” O’Dor says. “Constantly expanding.”

One mantra at 20 Past 4 and More is pretty simple: Family first.

They work with people they know and try to emphasize local whenever possible. They have such good relationships in their community that local glass blowers will just come in, hang out and even help out when it’s busy.

O’Dor has been with the company since 2006, except for when he left for a little while to try something else. His love for the headshop industry brought back soon enough. He grew up down the street from Miller, the owner, and used to mow his lawn as a kid. Miller knew him as a hard-worker with management experience, so he brought him aboard early on. He soon learned the value of working with family-oriented people and local vendors.

That also includes working closely with their local glass-blowers, well-respected artists such as Gnarly Harley and Piratt Glass.

“We try to to keep everything local,” O’Dor says. “We haven’t outsourced any work to anybody we don’t know.”

There’s another mantra too: Do things differently, more creatively.

That takes a lot of shapes. Some locations have popular rap battles, which draw a number of new faces and customers through the doors. There are canned-food drives. Then there are concerts — their 4/20 show at The Mousetrap in Indy did quite well.

There’s one idea that O’Dor is particularly excited about. He’s started a new project where 20 Past 4 and More is creating short videos to go along with some of the local heady pieces they sell. Not only will customers get the pipe, but they also get a five-to-eight-minute video starring the artist. The goal is to show more of the process and story behind the piece.

“We’ve gotten some really good feedback on it,” O’Dor says.

The point, really, is to connect with consumers on a deeper level, to be something more than a place where they come to spend some of their paycheck. The staff of 20 Past 4 and More is looking for lasting connections.

“We wouldn’t be here without our customers and patrons,” O’Dor says. “They allowed us to see our dreams come true. For me as a 19-year-old kid who read through magazines back in the day, and now seeing my store getting in one, it’s a dream come true.”

 

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