Don't Think You Can Make Money on a $30 Eighth? Think again.
One Massachusetts entrepreneur's quest to make cannabis affordable and diminish the illegal market.
Alex Mazin is the Founder and CEO of Bud's Goods and Provisions, a Massachusetts chain of adult-use cannabis dispensaries offering a large selection of cannabis products, including one of the state's first white-label offerings, Lil' Buds.
He wants to build the first recognizable East Coast cannabis brand across the U.S.
Mazin, 33, was raised in Worcester, MA, and holds a B.S. in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship. Before entering the cannabis space in 2014, Mazin spent nearly a decade as a strategic management consultant in the life sciences for a consulting firm and Fortune 100 company.
How are you helping to normalize cannabis in a state where many still see it as underground and illegal?
Alex: We are located next to a CVS, a Dunkin' Donuts, and a Bank of America. That's really normal. Having parking right next to the place on a major corridor where 17,000 cars pass by, that's normal. Being able to open the door and walking in without showing your ID to a camera to be buzzed in, that's normal. Being greeted in a friendly manner and helped through your experience in making it feel like you're buying something enjoyable, that's normal. Ultimately, we're just trying to match the buying experience with the consumers' behavior versus converting the consumer behavior to match the buying experience.
How is Lil' Buds different than other brands?
Alex: Lil' Buds is the "People's Eighth" -- the most affordable quality eighth in the state of Massachusetts.
They are little nugs branded under our Lil' Buds that are produced currently by Revolutionary clinics. So, it's the same strains subject to the same testing and quality assurance. It's just smaller-sized nugs. You get a 3.5 gram or an eighth for $30 plus tax.
The average eighth in Massachusetts is $50 plus tax. We're at $30 plus tax. That's close to a 50 percent discount. A cannabis consumer knows that the quality and the size of the nug do not determine the quality of the flower.
The whole movement on social equity and fair justice for all will not happen until the pricing comes down. As a cannabis dispensary owner, I just want people to have access to cannabis legally, that's affordable because that's what I would buy, and that's what I do use.
We are hoping to begin offering Lil' Jay's in or Abington local this fall. I love smoking pre-rolls. I've always wanted to drop a pre-roll line, but it was harder to package, facilitate, and orchestrate all of that. That's why we started Lil' Buds first. But Little Jay's will be a ten pack of pre-rolls .35 g what we consider a single-use joint. And that 10 pack of 3.5 g is the same eighth.
Q: How did you get a white label brand in Massachusetts?
Alex: I spoke to every company, and I made them the proposition!
The proposition is that there will not always be less supply than demand. Eventually, that goes away, and it's happening very rapidly here in cannabis. So if you are a facility that produces 100 percent of something, I'm offering you a way to get rid of 25 percent of it with a product that will penetrate the market now while consumer acquisition costs are the lowest will ever be.
Once a consumer is loyal to something, it will take rocket power engines to shift them away. Let's grab them while we can.
While everyone else is trying to squeeze dollars out of consumers, let's offer them an affordably priced, quality product.
Q: What can an East Coast cannabis professional learn from what we've seen out West?
Alex: We're lucky to have data from those who came before us. I'm learning from them how you slice the pie to give consumers what they want. From the experiences in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, we got a head start in knowing gummies to flower sales ratios or preferences in chocolate bars vs. gummies. They've created that data, and it really similarly reflects for us here.
As a business owner, I'm constantly thinking about what direction I want to grow in or what areas I explore next. I can better understand all of these opportunities from what the West Coast has shown us.
But I do predict that with all the academia we have in Massachusetts and the East Coast combined with the bulk of the healthcare industry, we're going to see a lot more advancement on the science front coming out of here, and that's really going catapult what cannabis will become, how it's consumed, and received.
I think that the East Coast ultimately will play a bigger role than the West Coast.
Q: What consumer behavior are you seeing, and how has it changed in Massachusetts since adult-use passed.
Alex: Consumers are no longer spending large amounts on buying cannabis from the legacy market because they're not sure when that next transaction will happen, or if they will have access to something that good the next time around. So, just having consistent product available is something consumers love.
Another thing that customers really like is variety. We carried over 650 different SKUs last month, and that's 20 to 25 new products a day being added to our menu. Maybe different strains; maybe different flavors of edibles; maybe different pre-rolled sizes and packages.
Part of the reason we call ourselves Bud's is the trust our customers have in our sales associates, in our budtenders. They're friends; they're on a first-name basis type of situation. Just having people trust us to curate what they're looking for on a regular basis is the goal.