A home run’s distance from Wrigley Field, Sunnyside serves about 1,000 customers per day
The old adage in real estate is location, location, location, and nowhere is that more important than it is for retail businesses. In the cannabis space, the idea that “weed sells itself” is quickly being replaced by an ultra-competitive business in which every advantage matters, and those companies set up with a location to drive traffic — and handle that flow of customers — are the ones set up for success.
By Brian Beckley, Garrett Rudolph and Patrick Wagner
There’s no place quite like the ballpark in the middle of summer.
And when it comes to selling cannabis, there’s probably no retailer in the country that can connect with throngs of baseball fans quite like the Sunnyside shop on the north side of Chicago. Located less than 500 feet from the home plate entrance of legendary Wrigley Field, Sunnyside features a 10,000-square-foot sales floor, 20 point-of-sale stations and some of the top cannabis products available in Illinois. Since opening in November 2021, the shop has been serving an average of 800 to 1,200 customers per day, with a noticeable increase in traffic during home games and other events.
“It’s been really wonderful thus far, even though the Cubs are absolutely terrible at the moment,” says Paul Bennett, regional director for Sunnyside’s parent company, Cresco Labs, in Illinois and Arizona. “The number of customers we’re seeing is above and beyond what we expected, so we really have a great opportunity to introduce so many people to cannabis.”
And while the “Friendly Confines” are a major draw for the area — the Cubs have sold an average of about 3 million tickets annually for the past two decades, whether they’re winning the division or trying to avoid last place — baseball isn’t the only thing going on in Wrigleyville. Wrigley Field hosts a popular summer concert series, which in 2021 featured the likes of Lady Gaga, Def Leppard, Motley Crue and the Zac Brown Band, and the neighborhood is full of bars, restaurants and other hangouts.
“It’s such a great area, right in the heart of Chicago,” says Katie Frazier, Cresco vice president of retail store development. “Everybody goes to that area, even if you’re not going to go to a baseball game.”
Frazier says the Wrigleyville location fits perfectly within Cresco’s overall retail strategy and goal of normalizing the cannabis industry.
“We want to be where people are going to be picking up their coffee, meeting up with friends, just normal everyday retail stuff,” she says.
The Wrigleyville location is also a substantial upgrade over its predecessor, a 900-square-foot shop in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, where customers needed to check in at one location, then walk across the street to visit the actual dispensary, which only had six registers.
“Needless to say, that location was far from ideal,” Bennett says. “We’re really excited to see the growth and traffic since the move. On average, we’re seeing anywhere between a 30% to 40% increase in traffic compared to last year.”