Paraphernalia Boutique has likely been a leader in the game for longer than you’ve known how to properly inhale. Since the late 70s Barbara Zevits was the shop’s matriarch and fearless leader, before passing the torch to her nephew and current operator, Chris Morris, in 2012.
“The shop has always been on the map for me, since a very young age,” says Chris. The unique lifestyle his Aunt Barb lived in Arizona was a topic of conversation among his conversative east coast family as he was growing up. They’d say: “Oh, there’s Barb, out there being different.” However, Chris saw it as much more than that. “I knew she was successful and happy…that she enjoyed life.”
When Chris was in college, Barb revolutionized his social status by sending a care package that included a Jerome Baker bong–his very first one. “When that came to my dorm I was the coolest kid,” he says with a smile. This introduction to the counterculture opened new doors, supported new friendships, and celebrated uniqueness and diversity. “Frats are alcohol-driven and everyone’s trying to normalize. This alternative was much more appealing,” Chris explains.
Following college, Chris pursued his dreams in New York City, serving as the frontman in a rock band called The Kind. “It was never a bill-paying mechanism,” he admits. “We had a couple shots at some big things but it never really panned out.” So, when Barb called in 2012, Chris knew it was time for a change.
Barb had dedicated nearly five decades to Paraphernalia Boutique and the cultivation of its strong community ties. The shop she took on in the late 70s had doubled in size and grown alongside the industry through every fad, regulation, and even the market crash of 2008. Barb’s steadfast dedication to people, not profits, fueled the shop’s success and supported many local brands and artists who got their start at Paraphernalia Boutique.
A shop run on emotion isn’t always the most sustainable option, though, and Chris was eager to flex his finance background and help his aunt save Paraphernalia Boutique. Although he implemented major business-minded changes, Chris kept Barb’s core values without any challenge. “We were always kindred spirits,” Chris says of his Aunt. “Our primary goal has never been making money. For us, it’s more about enjoying life and doing well by others. And the shop represents that.”
Putting people over profits is the organic nature of Paraphernalia Boutique, and a huge aspect of what makes the shop so special. Another key focus? Curating an inventory that showcases the local arts. “We very much support local artists,” Chris notes. “Whether it’s glass art, drawings and paintings, or jewelry..if we think it will sell, we’ll buy it from local artists. And we really value that ability to give artists an opportunity to sell their work.”
At no point was Barb or Chris tempted to dip into the import market, as carrying only American-made glass has always been something that both customers and the community can expect from PB. For them, it’s about supporting the community and creating an experience for the customer. Sure, you might find a similar design on a major import website at a cheaper price. But, it’s not special. And, as Chris notes, “Seeing a piece of glass in person is much different than looking at it online. Being able to hold it and experience the function, that’s a big aspect.”
And that’s really what it boils down to — the experience. As PB looks to the future with extended hours and plans of furthering their lifestyle brand via additional locations, Barb’s core values remain at the forefront. Her legacy lives on through Chris, who carries her love for the life they’ve built, the culture, the industry and community. “I love what I do, and I love that I got the opportunity to carry a torch for one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.”
Visit Paraphernalia Boutique at 4234 W. Dunlap Ave., Phoenix and explore their unique, vast inventory that includes everything from all different styles of heady glass pieces to dab rigs, bangers, and rolling supplies.
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