September 6, 2011

Anne Holland: 5 Lessons for Dispensary Launches from the Pacifica Wellness Shut-down

By Anne Holland

In early August a new medical marjiuana dispensary opened in the town of Pacifica CA (pop 37,000).  By the end of the month, the dispensary reportedly had 300-400 registered patients.  It was also out of business — for now at least — when the town Mayor, police chief, city manager and a school district board member were awfully surprised not to see the new flower shop they were expecting when they dropped by on a casual walk around town.  Whups.

Here are our five takeaways from this story:

#1. Don’t lie on your business license:  Pacifica business license applications don’t have a category for dispensaries because there’s never been one there.  That said, it was just a little too disingenuous of Pacifica Wellness Solutions Group owner Ruben Salvatierra, to check the box “Flower store” when he applied for his license.  Why not say “Wellness” or “medical” instead?

#2. Make your signage match your official purpose: Although Salvatierra is giving quotes to the press about how his dispensary is helping cancer victims who may not be well enough to drive to the next-closest dispensary 20 miles away, it surely can’t help his case that his signage on the day the officials stopped by apparently advertised a “Monster Home Joint.”

#3. Location, location, location: 300-400 new patients in a month or less is a major score for any new small business.  Salvatierra told press he carefully researched and picked Pacifica specifically because there wasn’t any local competition.   Demographics were also in his favor, the area is fairly wealthy with an average household income of more than $89,000.

#4.  Word of Mouth & Weedmaps: If you’re putting together a marketing plan for a new dispensary, these are the only two methods Salvatierra used to get customers.  He didn’t have personal connections in the community before he opened. We’re not saying these should be your only two tactics – especially in more competitive markets — but they’re a good starting point.

#5.  PR: Once Salvatierra was shut down, he worked the local press and blogsphere to get his story out, and rev up supporters for a city hearing to be held next Monday Sept 12th.  Will it work?  We’ll let you know.

Anne Holland is publisher of Medical Marijuana Business Daily. A 20-year B2B publishing veteran, her career has taken her into content areas including media, defense, aviation, and many more. She heads up Anne Holland Ventures Inc., a B2B publishing and professional education firm whose experts create content, events, and courses that help businesses grow.

Post Your Comment:

Please note:
Comments are moderated by our editors who do their best to approve comments ASAP. As Marijuana Business Daily is focused on business, we approve comments that are specifically relevant to industry professionals. General opinions and questions about cannabis may not be posted.

Denver MJ Growers Major Contributor to Rise in Energy Use

Marijuana cultivation facilities have been specifically identified as a key contributor to Denver’s increasing electric [click to continue...]

Alaska Governor Names 5 to Marijuana Control Board

Five Alaskans were appointed to a board that will craft laws governing the state’s recreational [click to continue...]

New York Could Reveal MMJ License Winners Soon


The New York Health Department may announce winners of the five medical cannabis licenses up [click to continue...]

50+ Medical Cannabis Business Applications Filed in MA

The Green Rush is back on in Massachusetts. The opening of the first medical cannabis [click to continue...]

Oregon Rec Rules Materializing, Early Sales Possible

Rules governing Oregon’s recreational marijuana market are taking shape, with state lawmakers sending two bills [click to continue...]

Rand Paul Brings in Six Figures at MJ Industry Fundraiser


Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul made a splash in Denver on Tuesday, raising an estimated [click to continue...]

Hawaii Bill Establishing Dispensaries Likely to Become Law

Dispensaries could be open in Hawaii in just over a year, as a bill establishing [click to continue...]

Second MMJ Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania Legislature

In an attempt to get around obstructionists in the state House of Representatives who have [click to continue...]

Fifth New Jersey Dispensary Given Green Light

New Jersey medical cannabis, pot dispensary and marijuana industry news

And then there were five. Dispensaries permitted in New Jersey, that is. Compassionate Sciences, Inc. [click to continue...]

Louisiana Gov Signs Medical Marijuana Bill

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a bill making his state the latest in the [click to continue...]

New York Cannabis Firm Buys Oregon Utility Building for $3M

In another sign of the marijuana industry’s growing national reach, a New York-based real estate [click to continue...]

WA Moves Closer to Overhauling Marijuana Tax Structure

cannabis taxes

Washington State growers and processors would no longer pay a 25% tax on cannabis and [click to continue...]

Sole MMJ Dispensary Opens in Delaware

Delaware’s only licensed medical cannabis dispensary officially opened in the northern town of Wilmington on [click to continue...]

Canadian Cultivator Tilray to Lay Off 61 Employees

Canadian medical marijuana producer and distributor Tilray said it will lay off 61 employees as [click to continue...]

Marijuana Business Daily