Certain places, I've come to realize, all have the same Eau de NO: head shops, belly dancing boutiques, new age bookstores, a free outdoor concert. Whether in stick or cone form, cheap incense smells like a love child sired by a hippie’s VW van and someone who’s all up in Bikram yoga’s grill.
Incense is used for meditation or ritual. Fine. I grew up with heavy incense being swung around in church, but at least it had a lot of room to dissipate. But when you are lighting up sandalpoop and franknoncense in your chockablock shop, I'm not feeling any closer to the Divine. I am, however, edging closer to unconsciousness.
Please stop buying your incense in bulk, else I might have to beat you with a bundle of joss sticks, all the while breathing through my mouth, of course.
And I'm not just blowing smoke.
(For lovely, subtle Japanese incense, try Asakichi in San Francisco's Japantown. They wrap even the smallest bundle—I like their cedar incense—in beautiful paper.)