Running a Business / Retail

Pot Shops Go High-End

The new crop of dispensaries is all about offering a premium shopping experience.
Pot Shops Go High-End
Image credit: Courtesy of Diego Pellicer
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Cannabis stores have come a long way from the seedy, blacked-out-window establishments of yesterday. The rapid expansion of the medical and recreational marijuana markets has brought with it a new kind of customer—one who doesn’t want to buy their flowers in plastic baggies while a heavily armed guard hovers behind. As a result, dispensaries have upped their game, designing, stocking, and staffing their stores in ways much more similar to Starbucks than Starbudz. Here are some shops leading the way. 

Related: The Green Industry Goes White Collar

Diego Pellicer

Diego Pellicer
Image credit: Courtesy of Diego Pellicer

This company operates well-appointed dispensaries in Denver and Seattle, all of which offer a high-end retail experience, even for customers looking for a bargain. “We seek the best in class at every price point,” says CEO Ron Throgmartin. “We have the $15 and the $20 eighth, and we’ve got the top-shelf products for the connoisseur.” Diego Pellicer’s dispensaries are gender-neutral by design, with similar interiors and a uniform product selection. “Consistency is important. You want to know what you are going to get and how you are going to be treated,” he says. “I want the soccer moms comfortable shopping in our stores.”

Harmony Dispensary

Harmony Dispensary
Image credit: Courtesy of Harmony Dispensary

This is the largest dispensary in New Jersey, located just a mile from Secaucus Junction, one of the busiest rail stations in the state on the commute to nearby Manhattan. With the state legislature nearing agreement on full legalization of adult-use marijuana, a dispensary nearly in the shadow of the New York skyline is very well-positioned to prosper. “We are the closest dispensary to Manhattan,” says Adam Johnstone, director of cultivation. “We service many patients commuting through the train station, which is just down the street.”

Related: 5 Steps for Dispensary Owners Thinking of Partnering With a Franchisor or Licensor


Image credit: Courtesy of Caliva

If Silicon Valley has a go-to dispensary, it’s Caliva, in San Jose. Actually, if Silicon Valley has a get-from dispensary, it’s also Caliva, which operates a busy delivery service the length of the valley. The store’s contemporary design emphasizes high-end retail. Since California legalized adult-use sales at the beginning of the year, Caliva’s customer demographic is broad and expanding. “It was a surprise to us, post–January 1, that the average age of our retail consumer actually increased, and quite significantly,” says Rosie Rothrock, vice president for marketing. “Currently our average customer is 46 years old. We recently had a customer tell us we were like ‘if a surf shop and a Starbucks had a baby.’ ”

Related: How to Start and Market Your CBD Company


Image credit: Denise Truscello | Getty Images

With its long wooden display tables, touchscreen iPads and open minimalist decor, MedMen has been called the Apple Store of Weed. The design of this trendy dispensary, which has locations in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, and New York City, is the brainchild of cofounder and president Andrew Modlin, who says he “wanted to create world-class stores that are normalizing retail and normalizing the way the cannabis industry was looked at.” MedMen sells top-shelf brands, including its own signature line, called [statemade], which includes home-grown vape pens and tinctures.

By Javier Hasse
From retailers to growers, producers, and suppliers, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of startup opportunities in this emerging market. In Start Your Own Cannabis Business, marijuana, biotech, and entrepreneurship reporter Javier Hasse introduces forward-thinking entrepreneurs like you to the industry and shares hard-earned tips and success stories from pioneers and visionaries in the marijuana industry.
Learn More

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