Feelin’ groove-y

New cloth­ing joint. The own­ers of Kush Groove, a pot-themed em­po­rium on Tre­mont Street in Mis­sion Hill, hope to change peo­ple’s views on ston­ers.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE -

Mike Pires: en­tre­pre­neur, de­signer, tastemaker, con­cert pro­ducer, stoner.

Af­ter more than a decade of selling cannabis cul­ture- themed T- shirts and other goods online, Pires and three of his clos­est friends this week were prep­ping to open a store­front in Mis­sion Hill for Kush Groove, an ap­parel and goods com­pany Pires said aims to re­shape peo­ple’s ideas about tokeup cul­ture.

“Our lifestyle is pretty much the ur­ban stoner: young, ed­u­cated folks who have a fash­ion savvy,” Pires, the com­pany’s 33- year- old CEO, told Metro on Tues­day while un­pack­ing boxes of freshly printed shirts in the shop he helped ren­o­vate by hand. “We want to use the cloth­ing as an av­enue to kind of change peo­ple’s per­cep­tions, es­pe­cially older folks who think peo­ple who smoke weed are lazy, delin­quents, crim­i­nals. That’s not the case.”

First dreamed up when Pires de­signed a shirt la­beled “West Side” that was a hit among friends in Cam­bridge, Kush Groove caught on in a big way over the last few years.

Some big names in hip- hop — Waka Flocka stuck to­gether to run the com­pany, Pires said.

“This is re­ally an it­er­a­tion of a fam­ily busi­ness,” said COO Mar­cus John­son- Smith, 29, who like Pires is a North­east­ern grad. “That’s kind of how we ap­proached it.”

A kick­off party for the new store on Tre­mont — which will of­fer shirts, hats, shoes, glass pipes, cus­tom pot ac­ces­sories such as grinders and rolling pa­pers and, soon, hand­made jew­elry — was planned for this week­end. near $ 75,000, Pires said.

The de­signs, co- pro­duced by Pires and lo­cal graf­fiti artists, are funky and play­ful, like one that spells out “munchies” in an ar­ray of half- eaten donuts and candy bars, or one that reads “Pen­znoil,” a send- up of the mo­tor oil com­pany and a nod to oily con­cen­trated pot prod­ucts, smoked with a spe­cial heat- up pen.

They’re also more “classy and taste­ful” than most shirts in the pot en­thu­si­ast mar­ket. With one small ex­cep­tion, none of the com­pany’s 60 T- shirt de­signs over the years have pot leaves on them.

But the com­pany does more than just print graphic T- shirts. Con­certs Kush Groove has or­ga­nized at Bos­ton- area venues for lo­cal artists have at­tracted as many as 200 peo­ple in a night.

The young en­trepreneurs are also cook­ing up an event they want to call the Stoner Awards, rec­og­niz­ing lo­cal mu­sic, ac­tivists, dis­pen­saries and the like. We are “high­light­ing the cul­tural el­e­ments of the cul­tural am­bas­sadors of the city who are re­ally tied in with the cannabis move­ment,” Pires said.

Through it all, the four Cantab­ri­gians have Flame, A$ AP Rocky — have worn their shirts. Sales online, at lo­cal con­certs ( many of which they or­ga­nized), Bos­ton’s propot Free­dom Rally, and at pop- ups in se­lect cities on both coasts have climbed

/ NI­CO­LAUS CZARNECKI, METRO

From left Mar­cus John­son-Smith, F. Matthews, and Mike Pires, co-founders of the Kush Groove store on Tre­mont Street in Bos­ton.

Co- founder Mar­cus John­son- Smith sets up the Kush Groove store on Tre­mont Street in Bos­ton.

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