Chain Reaction: La Mota

With nearly 600 current stores and another 981 applications in the pipeline, Oregon’s retail cannabis environment is one of the most diverse and competitive in the country, due in part to the lack of a cap on licenses, a longstanding medical program and regulations that allow for out-of-state ownership and investment. Portland alone has a citywide average of more than one store per square mile.

But even in a market as difficult and crowded as Oregon’s, several chains have established themselves as market leaders, cutting through the noise to achieve dominance in the retail category.

While the vast majority of Oregon cannabis companies have only a small handful of stores, there are 11 that have five or more retail licenses. Though they come from vastly different backgrounds and built their businesses through elaborate designs, pervasive marketing, aggressive expansion or smart buying decisions, all are doing something to resonate with consumers in the Beaver State.

Marijuana Venture checked in with some of the largest chains in the state to see how they rose to the top and what they have planned for the future.

La Mota, one of Oregon’s largest chains of cannabis retail stores, now has 11 operating locations with another 17 pending applications awaiting approval.

According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission 11 businesses have more than five retail licenses in the state. Marijuana Venture reached out to all 11 and profiled the businesses available to participate in the feature article.

Nectar

Classy, competitive and the largest vertically integrated retail chain in Oregon.

No. of retail licenses: 14

LaMota

Vertically integrated with large selection and competitive prices.

No. of retail licenses: 10

Hi Cascade

Wide variety of local products in a traditional dispensary setting.

No. of retail licenses: 8

Chalice Farms

Vertically integrated with rustic, traditional retail shopping experience.

No. of retail licenses: 6

Electric Lettuce/Serra

Beautifully designed, offering experiential retro and posh shopping atmospheres.

No. of retail licenses: 4/2

Five Zero Trees

Vertically integrated, Oregon-centric, celebrates local cannabis culture.

No. of retail licenses: 6

Sweet Relief

Northeastern Oregon chain with a small-town and homespun feel.

No. of retail licenses: 5

Attis Trading Co.

Western-themed, apothecary with plans for national expansion.

No. of retail licenses: 5

Cannabliss & Co.

Longstanding medical roots with historic and community-centric locations.

No. of retail licenses: 5

West

Oregon’s newest dispensary chain opened in 2018 with five retail licenses.

No. of retail licenses: 5

Mr. Nice Guy

Colorful atmosphere with a variety of unique, cozy locations.

No. of retail licenses: 5

Husband-and-wife team Aaron Mitchell (chairman) and Rosa Cazares (CEO) are proud of their rapidly growing dispensary empire and view their business as a labor of love.

With an early emphasis on hiring women, Cazares has been recognized as a leader in the industry and one who is unafraid to challenge stereotypes in a business traditionally dominated by men. Mitchell and Cazares understand the value of great employees and emphasize the importance the staff has on their success.

“Cannabis dispensaries outnumber Starbucks and McDonald’s combined in Oregon, so you have to have great customer service, knowledgeable staff, and be aware of all the trends,” Mitchell says.

La Mota is well-represented throughout the diverse state of Oregon, with four shops in the Portland metro area, two in Southern Oregon (Roseburg and Medford), two in the Willamette Valley (Eugene and Lebanon), one on the coast (Rockaway Beach) and one in the tiny town of Drain, which has a population of just over 1,000 residents.

Early on, the management of La Mota decided on a no-frills strategy that focused on consumer value. Mitchell wanted the La Mota brand to be the most aggressively priced chain in Oregon, and he has worked tirelessly to achieve that goal. Through volume buying, vertical integration and strong house brands, Mitchell created a sense of loyalty with his customers and vendors alike.

“As we expand into new markets, we’re constantly on the lookout for opportunities and ways to improve the brand and experience that we deliver to both our team members and customers,” Mitchell says.

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