“Psych” Shack Sets Bar For Local Businesses
It all started as a way to make some extra bucks on the beach. A year later, Burton Ritchie’s T-shirt kiosk business was more than he could have dreamed.
Today, the Psychedelic Shack is one of the most widely known local businesses in Pensacola and recently opened its third location on Ninth Avenue in April — selling everything from jewelry, tobacco pipes and clothing to offering body piercing and tattoo services.
Ritchie says his success stems from an interest that he didn’t even know he had.
“I never saw myself doing something like this,” he says, “but I’m a big believer that life is kind of a chance.”
In the fall of 1992, The Psychedelic Shack was a struggling business on Plantation Road. It had opened as a tobacco seller but later expanded to include tattoos and body piercing, when a local approached him about working in the back of the store. From there, the shop transformed.
“We stubbornly stuck at it,” says Ritchie. “I was in school full time…never gave up and actually started making money in ’95. It was an accident when we started tattooing and piercing in ’94.”
Ritchie credits the death of Grateful Dead front-man Jerry Garcia and the release of herbal ecstasy for the boost in sales in the mid-90s. The continuation of great customer service from his 15 employees and quality product lines have continued the success, he adds.
“We really do put quality and customer service at the top of our priorities…and persistence…you stay in the same place long enough, people know you.”
The product line overall has generally stayed the same for the “Psych” Shack — adding such things as potpourri incense and new body piercings in the last few years that have been top sellers.
“Part of our message is we’re not trying to recreate the wheel,” says Ritchie. “We’re just going to push to be the most reliable tobacco and piercing place around.”
The new 1,500-square-foot location on Ninth Avenue was built with expansion in mind. Instead of just purchasing the vacant building, which sits near Jerry’s Cajun Cafe, Ritchie opted to buy the surrounding land as well.
“We purchased the land there and we wanted to make it long term,” he says.
Ritchie adds that he loves the area and does not want to move — noting that he would only open future locations in Gulf Breeze and Ft. Walton Beach.
As far as what he has done over the years, he says he’s been successful because he’s done something that he’s enjoyed.
“You find something you enjoy and stick with it. If you’ve only created a $10-an-hour job for yourself, you still have a business starting off. Owning your own place has got a different payoff…I can take off anytime I want, but I’m on call all the time. It’s a big trade off for running your own place.”
The Psychedelic Shack
6707 Plantation Road, 479-9007
25 N. Navy Blvd., 453-3166
6215 N. Ninth Ave., 497-6916