Director of Strategy
Aloha Green Apothecary celebrated its one-year anniversary as Honolulu’s first medical cannabis dispensary on Aug. 9, 2018 with four days of doorbuster deals and giveaways. Those outside of the company don’t know how much we had fight to make our anniversary a successful event; we had no top-tier flower in our inventory.
A few months ago, we wrote about how exciting it was to finally have consistent inventory at the dispensary. Then, as if on cue, our pipeline started forming bottlenecks and it became clear that managing a vertically integrated system with a lag of 45 days from clone to shelf is complicated work.
When vape cartridges (or SPAMC oil, as we have to call it in Hawaii) were introduced in July, they permanently bumped us up to a new revenue plateau and there was a shift at the production facility to ensure we never run out of our top-selling concentrates.
But our resources are finite and when our focus shifted to concentrates, attention to our flower decreased, resulting in higher failure rates and large batches of flower headed straight to the lab to be turned into more concentrates. We had lots of concentrates but no top-tier flower — the natural, sustainable, sun-grown medicine our dispensary’s brand is built on.
But the nature of this business is to do what it takes to keep moving forward. We, at this point, had a number of sales that we knew to be effective with our market, more patients who realized that we had the highest-quality concentrates in Hawaii, prices that matched or undercut the black market and tons of branded swag that arrived the day before our anniversary. Using the discounts, giveaways and partnerships with local businesses, we were able to significantly increase sales. We didn’t focus on the limited flower selection; instead, we took a close look at our inventory, promoted what we knew we were good at, adjusted some of our numbers and got comfortable with loss leaders. We even partnered with a local plant nursery and gave away 200 tiny succulents (who doesn’t love cute, little cacti?). We did what we could with what we had and pushed through.
The anniversary was a success, but the more important lesson was learning where our system needed reinforcement. We put into place new sanitation procedures, reevaluated previous Band-Aid fixes that needed permanent solutions, confirmed the need for an in-house human resources professional, discussed the future of our product mix to focus more on concentrates, created more education content and the need to hire a community outreach specialist. At the end of the day, our mission is to provide patients with the best medicine Mother Nature gave us.
Yes, the business is difficult and comes with its fair share of headaches and challenges, but along with that comes the incredible opportunity to change the society we live in and to build a future of healing and acceptance. I am honored to be fighting this fight with all of you, and we send love and aloha to all those in our industry devasted by the wildfires in California (happening at the time of writing). We hope that you are rebuilding, stronger than ever, by the time this goes to print.