Chris Walsh: Tip for Marijuana Dispensary Owners – It’s All in the Appearance

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By Chris Walsh

Want to know what gives the medical marijuana industry – and individual cannabis dispensaries – a bad name? Actually, there’s a lot of things we could put on this list, like selling weed through back-door channels, allowing MMJ employees to smoke while on the job and that crazy pot-loving teen who allegedly planned to blow up a school in Tampa Bay (you just know cannabis opponents will somehow use that to attack medical marijuana).

But one of the biggest is also one of the most obvious: appearance. A dilapidated, crumbling storefront does little to instill confidence in the business. Bars on the windows heighten the public’s impression that dispensaries attract criminals. And a dimly lit, dirty and unfinished interior – or one that feels more like a jail than a business – gives a bit more credence to those who argue it’s not a legitimate industry.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen all of this at dispensaries in Denver. Seems dispensaries in California have some identical problems, too. Here’s the impression one newbie to the medical marijuana scene came away with after visiting several dispensaries in Los Angeles: “Depending on the location, they either resembled a hip nightclub with lots of bouncers (in the valley) or a rape bunker with bulletproof glass, vault-style doors leading to the sales room, and enough cameras to film five or six pornos simultaneously (East Hollywood).”

Comparing a dispensary to a “rape bunker” is not exactly good PR for the industry, or for your business.

Luckily, I’ve come across plenty of dispensaries that excel when it comes to appearance, including 3-D Denver’s Discreet Dispensary, Alpine Herbal Wellness, The Releaf Center (even with bars on the windows), Denver Relief and Harborside Health Center, to name a few. These are places you want to visit – not ones you can’t wait to leave. In a future post, I’ll take a look at what sets these dispensaries apart from their peers in terms of appearance and ambience.

Dispensary owners should make creating a professional, comfortable ambience a top priority, as it translates into increased sales and long-term customer relationships. It’s therefore worth plunking some money down to spruce up the inside and outside of your dispensary. Your customers don’t want to feel as if they’re in a drug dealer’s basement.

Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily