As a way of paying tribute to the beloved rock band, the Grateful Dead, Hoboken local Andrew Godsil constructed the HaHa Haven, located on First Street. What a long, not so strange trip, indeed.
“I’ve always felt extremely close to the Grateful Dead. Their music helped me through a lot of stuff. They’re just a very peaceful, fun, worldwide group who has a large following. I wanted to reach the community of Grateful Dead followers, or the deadhead culture if you will,” he said.
When passing The HaHa Haven, one is greeted by a grinning skeleton rockin’ a blue and green joker’s hat. According to Andrew, the joke (HaHa) and joker symbolism came simply from he and his girlfriend rattling off ideas.
“But the haha, [joker imagery] does just make sense,” he said. Andrew, who went to school for film, explains he opened the HaHa Haven because he was tired of working for free. Although this is Andrew’s first business venture and he is “still learning the ropes,” he explains that business has been “steady enough to keep the doors open.”
“It’s an up and down kind of thing and business hasn’t really been so consistent. I have busy days and not so busy days,” he said.
Although business has fluctuated for Andrew, he said he feels Hoboken is the ideal location for The HaHa Haven. “Of course it helps that I live here, but the demographic of the area just seemed ideal,” he said.
While the regular deadheads used have to travel to the East Village in NYC to embrace their culture, Andrew hopes to change that. “I’m still building of course, but I just feel that Hoboken is a great location for the incorporation of the [deadhead] culture/scene,” he said.
The store specializes in all of your smoking needs. Selling everything a smoker might need from pure hemp papers to glass bowls and pipes.
In addition to the glass products that are handmade by Andrew’s friend in Connecticut, Andrew sells several Grateful Dead and other t-shirts and the artwork of local artist John Ward.
Andrew explains that he opened his space to John’s work because he just feels certain artists work just fits perfectly with the East Village like aura of his shop.
“His work is pretty abstract and the abstract side of his art just really fits this lifestyle. When using these products, having something to look at is just more fun,” he said. “And the art John produces is just perfect.”
Featuring trippy designs and colorful patters, Andrew also showcases John’s uniquely painted and designed guitar.
Next month, he hopes to host a gallery-like exhibition for John’s work. In addition, Andrew encourages any local artist to stop by and show him their work- he is still looking for pieces to display within HaHa Haven.
While Andrew’s intention for The HaHa Haven was “to provide a service to people who need it,” he explains he has been pretty shocked by the customers that walk into his First Street shop.
“I expected to be pretty busy during the school year because of Stevens- which I am. But really, I anticipated a lot of college business and people in their early 20s,” he said.
“To be honest, I’ve gotten exactly the opposite of what I expected. My shop does lure in an older crowd,” Andrew said with a proud smile.
While letting out a chuckle he stated, “My favorite is seeing business men come in fresh off the PATH train in a business suit, I’m pretty shocked. But- hey, whatever keeps the doors open,” he said.
For more information about The HaHa Haven stop by and check it out or check out Andrew’s constantly building Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-HaHa-Haven/258945710828318.