Owner Jit Bhatia originally opened the store in 1976 primarily just to hang out
After 43 years of business, St. Paul’s longest-running retail store, Maharaja’s, is going online and restructuring its brick-and-mortar space on West Seventh Street.
Maharaja’s sells psychedelic posters, body jewelry, and unending oddities, but it’s best known as a head shop—offering bongs, pipes, and CBD products in the attached smoke shop. It draws customers of all ages from all corners of the metro, many introduced by parents or grandparents. Its location near Xcel Energy Center assures a stream of visitors. Plus, there are the artists, musicians, and—as owner Jit Bhatia terms them—other “nonconformists.”
In 1970, at age 21, Bhatia moved from India to Minnesota to attend the University of St. Thomas, on the wealth of his family’s auto parts empire. He was a self-professed hippie with a penchant for fun, so in 1976, he opened High Times in the Maharaja spot on West Seventh—primarily to hang out.
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