Naked Pie Man trades pies for highs

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 17:50 11/09/2013
Pie man
MURRAY WILSON/ Fairfax NZ
SNACK FREE: The confectionery cabinet that used to hold chocolate bars is now full of cigarette papers at the Palmerston North shop.

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An infamous "Naked Pie Man" in Palmerston North has given up his pies - so he can sell legal highs.

Leighton Haar has stripped his Fitzherbert Ave shop of its pies, drinks and confectionery in order to comply with regulations to get an interim licence to sell the psychedelics.

The Naked Pie Man store, along with Lotz of Potz across the street in Fitzherbert Ave, got the tick at the end of last month.

Haar, who runs the Naked Pie Man shop, said he was given a choice over whether to keep the convenience store products or become a smokes-only shop.

"They gave us the opportunity to do so, originally we weren't allowed to change."

After legislation was passed tightening up on the sale of legal highs, the store stopped trading in legal highs while waiting on a licence, seeing only a fraction of the usual number of customers.

Haar chose to ditch the convenience store products.

"It was a no-brainer because we were losing $1500 a week," he said.

The store is now closed from midnight to 4am on Thursday nights and Saturday nights because he "didn't have anything to give the drunks". Haar said he had been on an "adrenaline high" since the licence came through.

Customers had returned.

"When I went down to about one-third of the customers I had before, 100 per cent great people, it was boring because I didn't have the flow and I'm a people person.

"I'm here for the people first, I've got what they want, we've got a good transaction and at the end of the day, because I provide the best service around I make quite a bit of money."

But don't expect the name of the store to change. "When a star does a particular role they're always known [as that character] for the rest of their lives."

Five Palmerston North businesses have been granted interim licences to sell legal highs in seven outlets, including a new R18 Express store that operates out of a space next to the Naked Pie Man shop that used to be used for storage.

A further two Palmerston North businesses are still awaiting approval, as is a Feilding business.

Following a public petition, the Palmerston North City Council has agreed to develop a local policy restricting the sale of legal highs, but work cannot begin until next February after a new council has been sworn in.

By that time, it is hoped some uncertainties about the Psychoactive Substances Act might have been resolved.

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- Manawatu Standard

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