In the last half-decade we’ve seen restaurant smoking outlawed and medicinal marijuana legalized. Hookahs and cigars seem to hover on the fringes of trendiness–now they’re in, now they’re out. All told, the smokers’ situation has gotten more complex, and smoke shops have stepped into the breach.

Three new smoke shops have staked out territory in the last several months, though one of them is already out of business.

Nick Kamouni, thirty-nine, whose most recent business venture was a dollar store in Detroit, opened the Smoke Station in March. He lives in Farmington but has long been coming to Ann Arbor for football games. When he spotted the For Lease sign on the former Metro PCS store next to Banfield’s, he says, “I told the landlord to give me a week to study the area. I didn’t know what I was going to open.”

A friend suggested a smoke shop, and Kamouni liked the idea. Unlike a convenience store or a gas station, “You don’t have to stay open at night. Nothing good happens at night,” he laughs.

The Smoke Station sells about every form of tobacco, as well as paraphernalia and related items: cigarettes, cigars, incense, glass pipes, hookahs, ashtrays, lighters, air fresheners, breath fresheners, and munchies. But the bread and butter of smoke shops these days–now that brand-name packs of cigarettes like Marlboro sell for $6.25 and up–are bags of roll-your-own loose-leaf tobacco. Kamouni says a $17 bag of it will make a few cartons’ worth of cigarettes. He also sells the “tubes” to stuff it into–they look like filtered cigarettes lacking only the filling–explaining that “most people also have machines to insert the tobacco.” His machines sell from $40 to $90 depending on whether they’re hand cranked or battery powered.

Smoke Station, 3130 Packard Rd., 929-2544. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. No website.

Wild Bill’s Tobacco is scheduled to open April 30–building inspections permitting–on West Stadium, in the same building as Dimo’s Deli and Donuts, says retail support manager Justin Simona, who oversees new store openings for the Michigan chain. Started by Simona’s family in 1994 in Roseville, the company is expanding at a rate that, if the website is to be believed, is almost literally exponential. About forty stores are open across Michigan, and another thirty are “coming soon.”

Despite all those Simonas on the payroll (there are six listed in the roll call of phone extensions), Wild Bill, says Simona, “is not your ordinary Mom and Pop tobacco shop. We specialize in premium cigars. We have a walk-in humidor, with the kind of Spanish cedar paneling and humidification system you’ll see in New York or Chicago. We’re a ‘tobacconist’–that’s the word we like to use,” he says, distancing himself a little from the bong and incense end of the business. “But we do sell cigarettes, loose tobacco, hookah tobacco.”

Some Wild Bill’s shops have a tobacco retail specialty store license, which allows patrons to smoke on the premises, but this store will not. Tobacco stores, as long as they don’t sell food, are eligible for such a license, but Simona says that in practice, since the passage of the Michigan Smoke Free law, they’ve become as difficult to acquire as liquor licenses.

Wild Bill’s Tobacco, 2026 W. Stadium, no phone yet. Probable hours: Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. www.wildbillstobacco.com

While the Simonas’ locations multiply, Mohamad Khan exited the business almost as quickly as he entered it. In early March, a big red and white banner announcing “Now Open–Quick Smoke” hung from the eaves of Lamp Post Plaza over the space that used to be an antiques store. But where was it? Beneath the sign was an empty shop.

A couple of regular customers, accustomed to strolling over a few times a week for a nicotine fix, stood outside scratching their heads, insisting it had been there a few days ago. A clerk in a nearby shop wasn’t surprised it closed. He pointed across the parking lot to the Better Health vitamin store and Trader Joe’s, and suggested Lamp Post Plaza might draw a different sort of clientele.

The next day Khan stood outside, forlornly watching the last of Quick Smoke’s furniture being loaded into a PTO Thrift Shop van. He confirmed that Quick Smoke, which he said stocked hookahs and glass pipes as well as more prosaic cigarettes and chewing gum, opened late last year and hadn’t been a success. He had never owned a store before and didn’t know what he was going to do next.