Alaska shop makes history, but awaits crucial vote
Company: Herbal Outfitters
Owner: Rick Ballow
Location: Valdez, Alaska
VALDEZ, Alaska — If the daily line forming outside Herbal Outfitters is any indication, legal cannabis in Alaska is going to be a big hit with residents of the Last Frontier.
The state’s first marijuana retailer nearly sold out of product within its first week of being open.
“It’s day four and Green Rush Gardens’ Blue Dream and Sour Diesel have already sold out,” general manager Derek Morris says. “The Bubba Kush? We have maybe a couple of pre-weighed grams left and then it’s done as well.”
Even with the entire sales staff on hand and several volunteers helping, Morris says he wasn’t prepared for the media onslaught that followed.
“I looked at my Facebook and my aunt posted a thing saying she saw me on Pittsburgh morning news,” he says. “We never intended to be the first retail marijuana store to open our doors. When we found out that’s what was happening, we were flabbergasted. We’re in awe that is how it all played out.”
Herbal Outfitters owner Rick Ballow told the Alaska Dispatch News that he and his wife were vigilant at completing the necessary paperwork to open as early as possible.
“I really feel honored to be the first cannabis shop open in Alaska,” Ballow told the newspaper.
Morris says the owners successfully brought their vision of a “traditionally Alaskan, old-timey saloon” to life without any intention of racing to be the first. He says the company’s primary concern is following state regulations.
“We opened this store to be here to offer the Valdez area a legal and efficient way to purchase cannabis,” Morris says. “Now that the media has strayed away — at least physically — from our doorstep, we’re able to focus more on why we opened this store in the first place, which is for the locals to be able to come in, know what they are getting and to do so legally.”
However, Herbal Outfitters’ days may be numbered in Valdez. In May 2017, the city will vote on whether to ban recreational sales inside city limits.
“When the vote was originally passed, it was at a 2:1 ratio in town,” Morris says. “We’re confident that the Valdez voters who voted us in are going to come back and vote for us to stay when the time comes in May.”