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Posted on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

Meet downtown Ann Arbor's newest retail destination: Bongs & Thongs

By Lizzy Alfs


Bongs & Thongs is set to open in the former Liberty Street Video space in July at 119 East Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor.

Lizzy Alfs |

A downtown Ann Arbor business owner said he wants to “spice things up” with his new retail venture on East Liberty Street: a store called Bongs & Thongs.

With lime-green walls and items such as lingerie, massage accessories and hookah products, Bongs & Thongs is sure to draw attention.

Owner Kilo Hassan said he's aiming to open the shop by the end of July.

Hassan last month signed a one-year lease to occupy the 2,600-square-foot building at 119 East Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor. The shop building, owned by Ali Amiri, has been vacant since Liberty Street Video closed in October 2009. It's located steps to the west of Running Fit and Metamorphisis Salon and to the east of Kilwin's ice cream and chocolates shop.

Hassan said his business would be separated into two parts — both open only to customers who are 18 years and older. The 1,300-square-foot basement will be an adult novelties shop, and the 1,300-square-foot street-level space will be a head shop.

“It was the location that put the idea together,” Hassan said. “With the two floors, it’s the best of both worlds. You can buy everything in one spot.”

Hassan said the inventory at Bongs & Thongs would include lingerie, oils, massage accessories, hookah products, hand-blown glass tobacco products, hose cleaners, incense, posters and decorations for people’s homes. He said he plans on hiring three to four employees.

“It’s just a fun store,” he said. “I want to make it fun and make people not mad anymore. I hope this stuff brings happiness to people.”

Although Bongs & Thongs faces competition with similar stores in downtown Ann Arbor — including the Safe Sex Store, Stairway to Heaven and 42 Degrees — Hassan said he’ll price his inventory 30 to 50 percent below the other stores.

“I’ve done a ton of research and been to these similar stores in Ann Arbor a hundred times,” he said. “We want to slash our prices in half but have the same top-quality brands.”

With plans to open before the Ann Arbor Art Fair, Hassan said the space only needs minor renovations like painting, new showcases and shelving. He said he’ll also mostly cover the large front windows in the building that face E. Liberty St. as a means of maintaining customers' privacy.

And with high foot traffic in downtown Ann Arbor, Hassan said he hopes to draw customers inside with his interesting inventory and unusual store name.

“Liberty is a very busy street,” he said. “We’re right by Main Street and right by the bus station. The traffic is there, it’s just trying to get people in the door and hopefully we have what people want.”

And although he anticipates Bongs & Thongs generating buzz, Hassan said that his decision to open the store in Ann Arbor ultimately stemmed from his desire to help others and make his customers happy in their personal relationships.

“You could call this a gift shop and a relationship helper,” he said. “I want to dedicate my store to relationships.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

Ann Arbor is getting trashier by the minute. I saw this store and many other's like it. It only reinforced my impression of a college campus and city that is now catering to Adultescents who are indulged, spoiled, and coddled. Mommy and Daddy fund tuition, room and board and mad money so that their cherubs can get a degree from a prestigious University. During the week and weekends, the students have plenty of time to smoke their brains out, because they have no worries or great aspirations. They pretend that their liberal thinking is akin to intelligence. I'm much more impressed with the smart, young people who are moving back into Detroit. They are hard working. They respect others.They are trying to rebuild the city, not destroy it. Detroit's got plenty of great restaurants, cultural venues, and unique shops. If that's what you're into, don't waste your time in Ann Arbor.


Mon, Jul 11, 2011 : 1 p.m.

Everyone knows the word "bong" is illegal. Name change would be smart if you don't want to get shut down.


Sun, Jul 10, 2011 : 9:56 a.m.

Only in Ann Arbor will we celebrate the opening of a store such as this. Most goods sold are probably made off shore. On the other hand, while we worry about how our city council will next waste our tax dollars, we can strut around town buzzed on dope from the bong we bought while wearing the lime green thong we also bought from this new establishment.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

Why doesn't Paula Gardner's sky-is-falling article about the same shop appear under Related Content?


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 9:47 p.m.

I think this store needs to diversify or not enough people will come through the door. Sell music, BBQ supplies, sex toys, Asian musical instruments, Indian clothing, Asian board games, and hot dogs. Bongs, Thongs, Songs, Tongs, Dongs, Gongs, Sarongs, Mah-Johngs, and Foot-Longs. That's gold, right there!

Mike D.

Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

I'm surprised by the puritanical nature of many of the comments. It's a free country and I wish this business the best. If anything, I am worried about the Safe Sex Store; if the owner of this new place truly undercuts them by such a wide margin, he may well put them out of business, which would be a shame.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

By adding music and firepit inventory, it could be called "Bongs, Thongs, Songs and Tongs".


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 5:01 a.m.

Part of the stimulus money put to good use.

Mich Res and Alum

Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

Really? You're blaming Obama for this? Grow up.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 4:22 a.m.

I want to work there.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 3:57 a.m.

First off, what does one have to do with the other ? Gotta guess if you are getting stoned and perhaps doing other rec drugs, the last thing you want to be wearing is a thong. My prediction is this place will be "outta here" in less than 6 months ! Just the name of the place would keep me from visiting.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 2:40 a.m.

Back to the '60's!


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.

How about opening a Cops and Donuts right next door to Bongs &Thongs to monitor them..... Oh wait they can't, they're laying off all the Cops!


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 2:23 a.m.

One more company to help Ann Arbor become a "cool city". And it will create a few more jobs downtown. This should be especially appealing to the age group the city is trying to attract in that area. At least the students in the new student centered apartments will have a place to shop. I wonder who granted the new small business loan?

Left is Right

Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

Bongs and Thongs. Kind of like mental floss and butt floss? Guess I'll have to check it out. My dollar says the business won't survive the lease. Seems demographically challenged in the Ann Arbor of today--especially in that neighborhood.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

And opening next door, a new pharmacy called "Whoops, I did it again." :)


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 1:08 a.m.

This should be interesting for the kids walking into 826michigan for afterschool tutoring.

Mich Res and Alum

Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

Yeah because we all know kids don't joke about sex and pot when they're with their friends.

Tanya YpsiGirl

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

I was like "why?" am I all of a sudden getting all these hits on my blog. It came from the comments. Maybe I could get a job here- I'm just not sure if it would be "up stairs or down stairs". Guess a "bad reputation" last's longer than a good one. lol ;) I love the name and think it fits perfectly with the community. I'll be in for a thong for sure! Hint... offer "free ostrich love whip" coupons in the Current & A2 worked for me GREAT!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

This is SO Ann Arbor! Hahahaaa!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

And Ann Arbor didn't want a Hooter's Restaurant??


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Diversity is nice but this kind of store is just as bad as an adult book store. We don't need it anywhere downtown. It won't succeed.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

Ypsilanti has mich Ave, Ann Arbor will have Liberty St...smut for everyone. That along with the element in Liberty plaza will make it a fun tourist destination


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 5:23 a.m.

There is not a single "smut" shop on Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti. As a matter of fact as far as I can tell there is one sole adult industry holdout in Ypsilanti - Deja Vu - a corporate national chain. Perhaps before you disparage a city you should know what you are talking about.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 5:01 a.m.

What? "Ypsilanti has mich Ave.. smut for everyone." Have you even been to Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti? Let's see, vintage and antique stores, T-shirt shops, music and clothing stores, copy services, diners, Vietnamese food, toy stores. Wow, you really have a wide definition for smut.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

What goes around, comes around. This is great for Stuffy Old Ann Arbor.

John of Saline

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

So, it's a head and tail shop.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 10:45 p.m.

Perfect, John!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:37 p.m.

..."his desire to help others"...I thought that's what Boy Scouts do.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

Let's bring back the 4th Street Porno shops! Everything old is new again as the song says!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 8:45 p.m.

The content is deserving of an alcove in the back of a 7-11 or N Main Party Store. We have homeless people hangin out at the bus station, library, and the men's shelter as well. Lots of these people challenged by sobriety issues, and fewer cops on the beat-I really don't appreciate a storefront devoted to this. Young kids and students-okay, how many of their parents have been in recovery and likely do much to educate their kids about embracing a non drug using/abusing lifestyle. This is not a cute store....he'll probably add books, magazines and videos to the mix, so it may lurk there longer than you think.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

Every party needs a pooper, that's why we invited you...! Geeez, lighten-up! The rapidly changing economic conditions over the past decade (mostly for the worse) and the hopelessness they've created, are why we have so many homeless/jobless people, not because of the occasional store like this one catering to relatively harmless vices. This guy is no more contributing to drug abuse than the party store owner down the street. Kilo... what a great name!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

safety girl is now ypsi girl! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:25 p.m.

Full Circle - some of us remember the porno shops on 4th ave back in the day...and how Safety Girl's lingerie/adult toy shop was run out of town with pitchforks and torches a scant decade (or so I guess) ago (almost the same location) as A2 didn't believe in &quot;smut peddlers&quot; downtown. *LAUGHS*


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

@A2K-great post! I forgot all about Safety Girl! Recall i met her once (or was it twice?) anyhoot, she was fun! Gawd how I miss the &quot;real Ann Arbor&quot; she had a show on CTN at one time too. Yeah, those shops on 4th Ave back in the day were fun.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

Kilo, good luck with your business. Skip the naysayers here. These are the type of stores I fondly remember as a teen growing up in the Deuce in the 70's. Now it seems, chain stores and food establishments is the preferred outlet. If people can find the same chain store in their hometown, why come here? From 16 Hands, Peaceable Kingdom, and all the other non-chain stores, these are the type of stores that makes a downtown unique. And besides, with those new medicinal weed outlets opening up, maybe the city can change its policy for allowing head gear to be sold again. Next they'll outlaw condoms because they might not want people to produce kids or catch a STD! Good grief!


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 4:06 a.m.

Right on man..............

Martha Andrews-Schmidt

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

As part-owner of one of the counterculture shops at 215 S. State St. in the late '60s and early 70's, I say, &quot;Right-on&quot;.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 4:03 a.m.

was yours the store in the basement below Wazoo records next to the ice cream parlor? I loved that shop! Was just thinking about it yesterday!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:16 p.m.

Didn't we already have this? I believe it was called 4th Avenue.

peg dash fab

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 10 p.m.

frank harary retired to arizona

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

Good grief!!! Didn't we outgrow this kind of thing in the '80s? How &quot;Retro&quot; can you get??

Left is Right

Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 1:48 a.m.

I think we outgrew it in the early 70's.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

I love it! A thumb in the eye of every frump in A2... brilliant!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

The censors have no sense of humor. I wish we had a real paper instead of this glorified blog. Cheboygan has a daily paper. Marquette has a daily paper. Probably Podunk, ND, has a daily paper., But NOT Ann Arbor.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

This is the kind of business that adds allure, uniqueness, and more tourism traffic to downtown Ann Arbor, just as Austin, TX has successfully marketed home-grown (as opposed to chain) businesses in their &quot;Keep Austin Weird&quot; campaign. To suggest that it will attract criminals is laughable. And, please, no more restaurants.


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 4:05 a.m.

We should model ourselves after Austin, Texas for sure???????????????


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

I'll take 24 months. It will take him that long to figure out how much money he lost in the 1st 12 months.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:04 p.m.

lol, thats why I said 13!

John B.

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

Can we start a pool on how long this place will last? I'm in at 17 months. One doobie per participant, perhaps, with winner-take-all? I guess that landlord was really, really desperate to get a tenant?


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

Before his 12-month lease expires.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Yeah, 17 is generous. I don't see the AATA as being a great asset for this type of business either.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

I don't want a prize for being correct. It's prize enough to be able to say &quot;I told you so&quot; 17 months was a good bet, I say 13. Geez, I didn't think Squares would last longer than a year and they were gone well before that.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

ding, ding, ding!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

is his real name KILO?

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

It's another head-shop, so what? I will say that name is unflattering and lacks creativity. I always preferred head-shop names like the old Make Waves, Stairway to Heaven, In Flight, or Middle Earth. Bongs &amp; Thongs just reminds me of spring break.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

I think they'd make more money if they opened up in the basement of the Michigan Union. Just saying...


Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 4:04 a.m.

Just what we need for sure.................


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

thats exactly what Annarbor needs another shop directed to the u of m lol


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

"I want to make it fun and make people not mad anymore. I hope this stuff brings happiness to people." Bongs + Thongs = Happiness I'll start with the thong portion of the equation: - sad reality is that they don't generally show your greatest ASSet - how does one get the proper fit? is there a fitting room? - the most uncomfortable piece of clothing I've ever experienced. so ... &quot;make people not mad anymore&quot;? Well, let's just say that we best move on to the bong portion, &quot;I hope this stuff brings happiness to people." I'd say it stands a better chance than the thong. Good luck on both ends.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

apparently it will have prices heavily discounted compared to similar shops. Just what you need or want in one of the most expensive retail rent sections of town. A discount head shop with discount adult novelities.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

With the aging Baby Boomers, he might do better if the business centered on : &quot;Boxers or Briefs and Pain Relief&quot;


Tue, Jul 12, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

What's wrong with that? Don't forget, even YOU might qualify for those items in a few years. We are not defined by what we wear!

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.

fiber supplements down aisle 3


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

"I want to make it fun and make people not mad anymore. I hope this stuff brings happiness to people." Sounds more like he is opening a lemonade stand rather than a business. And Kilo? The jokes just write themselves, lol.

A2 is a Utopia

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

Just the type of business A2 needs, just think the number of people that will flock to this well run store, yeah the very same people you want to build a wall to keep out. If you don't want the criminal element don't attract the criminal element. Good Luck &amp; Good Night


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

How close is this to the Embassy Hotel? There is often an emergency need for adult toys there, or so I have read.

John B.

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:48 p.m.

What's a Eutopia?


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

sorry, but no one has an emergency adult novelity need so there is no need to flock to the store. One can order anything you desire on the internet and have it shipped discreetly without having to pay for parking. The only emergency product one might need would be condoms but that only requires driving to the nearest 24 hour pharmacy.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

At least i can do &quot;one stop shopping&quot; if i ever get the urge to put on a thong and smoke some dope. If that day ever comes my children need to institutionalize me.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Jul 9, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Not really. It would be so out of character for me that it would be a clear indication my ability to make sound logical decisions was seriously compromised.

peg dash fab

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

dude, that's sad.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

This is great. Can the beauty supply stores, liquor stores, nail salons, and check cashing fronts be far behind? Keep Ann Arbor funky!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

you forgot &quot;massage parlors&quot; in your list

Supervenient Man

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

"'I've done a ton of research and been to these similar stores in Ann Arbor a hundred times,' he said.&quot; Yeah, that's why you always see me there, too. I'm &quot;doing research.&quot;


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

classin' up the neighborhood!


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:07 p.m.

I'm sure Kilwins, Running Fit, and M Salon are excited about the new neighbor. Exactly the kind of business the DDA is hoping to attract.


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

I too am reminded of the old Fourth Ave scene. Running Fit could carry size 12 platforms and platinum wigs. Tutoring at 826?


Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

well, at least there aren't a lot of kids that go to the Robot Repair Shop or the Cupcake Station....and covering windows for customer privacy? If one needs to shop for items in private, perhaps rethinking your purchases is needed...and is this the beginning of bringing back of 4th Ave? hmmm...

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

It rhymes.