Off Ya Tree bong and piercing shops up in smoke amid mass closure

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It once felt as if Off Ya Tree stores were everywhere but the controversial bong and body piercing stores are vanishing at a rate of knots.

Adelaide’s store on Hindley Street is the latest as it closed suddenly this week.

One insider claiming to be the store’s former manager took to the anonymous online forum Reddit on Wednesday, claiming staff were told the only South Australian outlet would be shutting for good at 3pm that day.

“They’ve told us nothing, and I honestly doubt they will, but the store was losing massive amounts of money because we were just dead,” he wrote.

“The location meant there wasn’t much in the way of foot traffic and there wasn’t a whole lot of marketing, so we weren’t reaching new customers and you can’t pay the rent with nostalgia.

“Either way, the rest of the staff are now out of jobs – and most were casual, so they’ll get nothing.”

At least three more stores in New South Wales and WA have recently been listed as “permanently closed”.

A Byron Bay store also closed abruptly roughly three weeks ago, upsetting some locals.

At its peak, Off Ya Tree, the Australian retail chain specialising in alternative fashion, body piercing, and accessories, had around 30 stores across Australia.

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Founder Jim Kouts, a music business owner, opened Off Ya Tree in 2001 because, as he once recounted in a media interview, “the bongs were doing a lot better than the music side of things.”

He pursued the bong side of the business, which eventually led to the establishment of Off Ya Tree and The Bong Shop.

Off Ya Tree has drawn sporadic criticism over the years for selling various types of bongs, pipes, “stash tins”, and plastic “baggies” used by drug dealers.

Kouts remains listed as a significant shareholder of Thendro Pty Ltd, which owns Off Ya Tree and other brands.

Despite facing discrimination and legal hurdles, Kouts’s business grew significantly.

Nowadays similar merchandise, has become widely available to tobacconists.

The latest closures represent a total withdrawal of brick-and-mortar stores from three states, with just 14 stores remaining in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Queensland.

This includes Punktured piercing stores and The Bong Shop outlets, also owned by Thendro Pty Ltd.

Additionally, documents filed with ASIC in late February show a change to company details, including the cessation of three high-level company officeholders — two directors and a secretary.

Off Ya Tree and Thendro Pty Ltd and several closed stores, none of which have publicly addressed the closures, have been contacted for comment.