Opening a new store is never an easy thing. No matter how many times you do it, there are always a host of unforeseen and situational challenges that may present themselves — whether it’s a regulatory shift, local attitudes, product supplies or even the weather.
At Theory Wellness, we just wrapped up the opening of one of the first recreational cannabis dispensaries in Maine (South Portland). To date, this will be the second new brick-and-mortar store I’ve helped work on, but we’ve opened three recreational stores in total (in co-located facilities).
Part of the process that always strikes me is the all-hands-on-deck mentality that it takes. The new retail teams are training, the human resources department is bringing folks on and getting them registered, production is working on the product, marketing is building its lead-gen tools, and so it goes. Despite the long hours and constant shuffle of moving parts, there is an undeniable element of pure joy.
Nothing brings teams closer together than the thrill of a new endeavor. When you add a new state, or expand to either medical or adult use, unforeseen challenges will always present themselves. Even with the best-laid plans to open, you know Murphy’s Law is going to take the wheel. It’s all about being able to dodge and weave in the heat of the moment.
It’s the first Monday since our opening, and we’ve been navigating complexities from supply lines to local dissenters to slow registrations for team members. Are we surprised? Not really. Did we expect these things? Definitely not. Did we tackle them however we could? Absolutely.
At this point, it’s almost a cliche to remind cannabis industry professionals to prepare for the unexpected. Cannabis is an inherently disruptive industry, but that’s part of what makes it incredibly rewarding. We’re lucky to have these challenges to solve.
The highlight of our opening in South Portland for me was undoubtedly the older couple who nervously shuffled through our socially distanced walk-up queue. I chatted up the gentleman and his wife, one of my favorite forms of market research. He grew up in South Portland, just 10 minutes from where our store was located. His first time consuming cannabis was a joint in high school less than a mile from our new store. In 30 years, he never dreamed the day would come that he could purchase legally. His purchase was to be his first time using cannabis in a decade.
Ultimately, getting to serve people like this couple is why we do what we do. The madness of opening, the of months of planning and execution — it’s all worth it for moments like this.