Jermaine Dumas is working two jobs, chasing his dreams.
“I ain’t ready to sleep until I finish chasing my dreams,” he said this week, standing behind the counter at Essential Smoke, the business he opened Jan. 1 in Audubon Plaza, 2845 W. Parrish Ave.
Dumas, who has six children, said he was unemployed for six months last year.
So, he dipped into his retirement savings and worked to open his smoke shop.
Dumas also applied for a job at Mizkan America, which makes Ragu sauce.
And about the time he opened his store, he got a job offer from Mizkan.
“With six kids, I need the benefits,” Dumas said. “So, I’m working there, too.”
“This is my first business venture, but it won’t be my last,” he said. “I’m a visionary. I have a small team around me that makes my vision come true. My sister and my girlfriend are a big help. My kids are a big motivation.”
Dumas said he wants to “to build generational wealth for my kids. I keep my faith up; it’s important to me.”
An Owensboro High School alum, he said he graduated from Campbellsville University with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology.
Dumas refers to the store as a “head shop,” because it has a retro sound.
Essential Smoke sells a variety of gravity water pipes, a staple of head shops in the ‘60s, when they were called bongs.
There’s a sign by the water pipes that says, “For tobacco use only.”
“Business has been good so far,” Dumas said. “I’m building my inventory, adding cigars. Smoking is a way of life for a lot of people. Everything you want, you should be able to get here. That’s why I’m continuing to build my inventory.”
He’s keeping an eye on the Kentucky General Assembly, hoping he can add Delta-8 products soon.
Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, made from hemp, produces a milder high than marijuana, scientists say.
Senate Bill 170 would outlaw it in Kentucky.
But on Friday morning, the bill, which passed the Senate 23-13 on March 9, had still not been voted on in the House of Representatives, according to the legislature’s website.
If the product remains legal, “that’s a game changer,” Dumas said.
“Eventually marijuana will be legalized and I want to be knocking on the door when that happens,” he said.
Dumas is planning “a big blow-out sale” on April 20.
“We have some exclusive stuff,” he said.
The store carries tobacco products, ashtrays, incense, sprays, vape supplies, T-shirts and a lot more.
“I got in business to make noise,” Dumas said. “And I’m going to.”