When Theory Wellness opened its fourth cannabis retail store in Massachusetts, converting an old car dealership into a Boston-area dispensary, the company wanted to put extra emphasis on the beverage sector.
With two entry doors to access one licensed location, the company created two distinct retail spaces: a conventional Theory Wellness cannabis store connected to a Hi5 beverage dispensary, the first retail space in the country dedicated exclusively to infused beverages.
“The concept as a whole is to provide the largest diversity of beverages in one place in the state, as well as the most competitive prices on these products in the state,” says Thomas Winstanley, Theory’s chief marketing officer.
Although the beverage sector has not seen the explosive growth that was predicted in years past, Winstanley still believes it’s a category that will continue to grow and will continue to draw in new cannabis consumers.
Theory launched its beverage line in 2021 with the Hi5 seltzer, becoming one of the first cannabis drinks available in the Massachusetts market. In its first year, beverages accounted for about 1% of the company’s sales. That number has grown each year, though modestly, now accounting for about 3% of revenue.
“When we first debuted it, we sold somewhere around a million cans in the first six months, which was dynamite,” Winstanley says. “And over the last few years, that portfolio, which started with seltzers, expanded into sodas and energy drinks. And as the market has adopted beverages as this really interesting category, we continue to expand.”
Although the beverage dispensary in Medford doesn’t yet have the sheer variety that a comparable craft beer or wine store would carry, the Hi5 shop features three cannabis brands in addition to its own in-house products: Levia, the first cannabis-infused beverage in the state; Cann, one of the biggest national beverage brands; and Good Feels, a home-grown Massachusetts company that makes seltzers and on-the-go beverage enhancers.
“I think there are quite a few eyes looking at us to see what success could mean for an operation like this,” Winstanley says. “Everybody seems really enthusiastic and is very excited about how things are transpiring.”
The Spring issue of Marijuana Venture will be the second annual Edibles Issue, focusing on one of the most exciting categories in cannabis and looking at the brands, equipment and trends leading the industry.
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