We recently wrapped up our third Interchange retail market and just like the previous two events, it was a big success.
For those who aren’t familiar with Interchange, the idea is to bring growers and retailers together for two days of scheduled one-on-one meetings. Retailers are admitted free (because they’re the customers) and growers pay a fee to attend. I had a feeling from the start that Interchange would be a big hit, because one of the glaring problems with the legal marijuana industry is that a large percent of cultivators entered it unprepared.
Their love of growing cannabis, combined with a “we grow the best weed” sales and marketing plan (which isn’t a sales and marketing plan), made it seem likely that once the honeymoon period ended there would be a lot of folks on the production side looking for customers and cash flow. Another issue growers face is that retailers in all industries inevitably gravitate toward fewer vendors, not more. The legal cannabis industry is no different.
Interchange promotes interaction and offers buyers a chance to meet lots of new vendors. My guess is that somewhere north of $10 million in business was conducted during the two days, and every grower and retailer I talked to had positive things to say about the event.
Our next Interchange will be Nov. 8-9 in Renton, Washington. As with the first three shows, we’ll keep it intimate. Retail participants will be limited to roughly 40 to 45 top stores who will have buyers on hand to meet with cultivators and review their presentations. Producers and processors will also be limited to around 45 companies looking to meet new customers or to stay in front of current retail partners. By keeping the event intimate, we avoid a circus atmosphere and ensure that meetings are productive for everybody involved.
Be forewarned, Interchange is not for everyone. It’s two days of intense business meetings that reward those who are prepared, have a real plan, take notes, listen and know what they’re doing.
In addition to putting on the Fall Interchange, we just booked the Oregon Convention Center in Portland for our first national Retail and Dispensary Expo (RAD Expo), which will be Jan. 18-19, 2018. To us, the need for a national trade show focused specifically on retail was obvious. While there are currently lots of cannabis shows, none have a dedicated retail focus and most are full of products for growers. Attendees at most of the current shows are charged outrageously for admission, and show floors often feature a mix of business people and the general public.
The steep admission fees and lack of focus have resulted in most of the retail store and dispensary owners we know declining to attend the current crop of shows. We believe the RAD Expo is the answer. Attendees will be admitted free if they are involved in the retail side of the business (store/dispensary owners, buyers, employees and future owners), and the show will focus on the goods and services that retailers need to set up a store and the products they can sell. Check out www.TheRADExpo.com for more information.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the grow end of the cannabis industry. I just think it’s obvious the two sides of the business need separate — and focused — trade shows. A grow show for cultivators and a retail event for retailers.