Curated Flame smoke shop aims to diversify market


Photo by Evan Levine

Anthony “Mo” Rabovitz, a Point Park alum, poses in his shop, Curated Flame in Millvale.

Written By Evan Levine, Staff Photographer

Editor’s Note: The Globe does not condone illegal or illicit drug usage.

Most smoke shops are all the same: windows filled with bright neon signs sporting drug references, a plastic gas-mask bong that has been collecting dust since the shop opened and a seemingly infinite selection of Rick and Morty themed drug paraphernalia. Curated Flame in Millvale is not like most smoke shops.

Shop owner Anthony “Mo” Rabinovitz, a Point Park alumnus, opened Curated Flame after working in a different smoke shop. Rabinovitz noticed that many of the Black and LGBTQ+ customers that came into the shop “didn’t feel comfortable” and “didn’t see anything catered to them.” In July of 2020, Rabinovitz opened Curated Flame to meet those needs and to cater to a modern demographic.

Walking into Curated Flame, customers are greeted with beautiful murals and paintings from local artists, a selection of both tremendously intricate and satisfyingly minimalist glass smoking accessories, meticulously restored vintage novelty lighters and a great selection of hard-to-find exotic snacks. 

“The classic stoner is changing,” Rabinovitz said. “It’s not just that long-haired dude with a poncho anymore.”

Rabinovitz emphasized that he takes great care in curating high-quality, unique pieces for his shop. One regular said that they think the products are so high quality that if they drop the glass “it’ll bounce.”

Rabinovitz says that he is “always on the hunt” for new items for the shop. He sources many of his items locally even though they “don’t have the same profit margins as a mass-produced piece does.” Rabinovitz, when asked about his shop’s margins to other smoke shops, said “I don’t care about that as much.” 

In addition to the shop’s bright artwork and one-of-a-kind products, customers may also be intrigued by Curated Flame’s gumball machines. Inspired by a customer’s story of getting a randomly selected tattoo from a gumball machine, customers can buy a token for one of Rabinovitz’s three gumball machines filled with unique items. The shop currently has $1, $10, and $20 gumball machines, with each price increase featuring higher quality items. With such a wide variety of items in the store, the gumball machines are great for customers who just can’t decide what to get. Rabinovitz says he’s glad when customers win high-value items because he knows they are bound to tell their friends and he views positive word of mouth as a priority over the short-term loss.

“Come shop with me,” Rabinovitz said. “We’re Black-owned, Jewish-owned, and all the money goes back into the local art scene in some way or another.” 

Curated Flame’s address is 505 Grant Ave.