Legal marijuana is the fastest growing industry in North America.
This comes as no surprise to those who have invested their heart, soul and hard-earned dollars in this business over the past few years.
By some measures, it’s the only industry right now that is seeing consistent growth and there’s no indication that it’s slowing down anytime soon, with Canada approving its legalization measure, California overcoming the early growing pains of its adult-use program and dozens of other states putting plans in motion to expand legalization.
But this insane growth is forcing the industry to mature quickly, which is why Marijuana Venture started the RAD (Retail and Dispensary) Expo. For the retail side of the industry, it’s simply the most efficient way to do business.
Rather than spending hours walking between aisles of nutrients, lighting, greenhouses and extraction equipment, retailers can focus on the products and services they need to run their company.
The next RAD Expo will be Oct. 10-11 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. Admission is free for all retail and dispensary owners, managers, investors and license applicants who preregister, and the event is not open to the public. Exhibitors and attendees can register online at www.theradexpo.com or by calling 425-656-3621.
Here are seven reasons the time is right for RAD:
– Cannabis is not one giant industry: As the business of legal marijuana matures, it’s splitting off into multiple sectors, each with its own unique needs and products. Farming and retail have little in common. Even with vertical integration, most cannabis companies have different managers for their production and retail divisions. At one point, it made sense to have everything lumped together, but at this stage of the industry’s development, it’s clear that events must become more specialized to provide both attendees and exhibitors exactly what they’re looking for. Long gone are the days when cannabis entrepreneurs could attend every event in the country. They simply don’t have the time or budget. They need to focus on the events that make the most sense for their business.
– The price is right: At most conventional trade shows, the customer (attendee) is always free. Trade shows are already making their money by selling booths and sponsorships to exhibitors. But in the cannabis industry, most trade shows try to double-dip by cashing in on both exhibitors and attendees. Some of the entry fees at these events are exorbitant — ranging from a couple hundred dollars to get in the door up to $1,000-plus for all the seminars and add-ons.
A buyer for Costco would never pay hundreds of dollars to attend a trade show like CES or Book Expo.
It’s time to stop gouging entrepreneurs, simply because they’re jumping into the hottest new industry in America.
RAD Expo is free for qualified attendees. All the educational panels are free. We did this specifically to promote good foot traffic and to make it fair for the business people who are attending.
If you’re paying money to get into a trade event — when you’re the customer — somebody is taking advantage of you.
– Most shows lack focus: This is a big reason many retailers don’t attend some of the biggest events in the country. Not only are they too expensive, but they’re a hodgepodge of cultivation, processing, retail, advocacy and investments. At a typical cannabis trade show, only a fraction of the booths offer retail-related products and services. It’s not worth a retailer’s money — or more importantly, time — to fly in for a show and meet with only a half-dozen potential vendors.
RAD is highly targeted. It’s the only event in North America specifically developed for cannabis retailers. You won’t find grow lights or greenhouses. You won’t be sidetracked by the impressive displays of high-tech extraction equipment. You won’t be inundated with one seminar after another and meaningless rah-rah keynote speeches by celebrities. But if it’s a product or service for the retail sector of cannabis, chances are, you’ll find it at RAD.
That said, RAD is not for everybody. For companies trying to meet consumers, there are dozens of better events, such as the iconic Seattle Hempfest. Growers looking for the latest production technology have numerous options from which to choose (we suggest checking out Cultivate in Columbus, Ohio, the largest horticulture trade show in North America). Other niches within the cannabis space also have options, such as the Cannabis Science Conference, Pack Expo International and others.
But for cannabis retail, there’s only one.
– Business-only: Whether you’re an exhibitor at a trade show or an attendee, there’s nothing more annoying than dealing with a crowd of non-business people. Many shows allow the general public to attend (again, all they care about is getting that entry fee). Others attract a large percentage of dreamers and curious bystanders. There are plenty of events that are great for these folks, but at events that are truly focused on business, it’s important for exhibitors to meet prospective clients — not people who are merely “interested in learning about the industry.” Meeting one prospective client is more valuable than meeting 20 window shoppers.
– Marijuana Business Conference is simply too big: The annual trade show held every November in Las Vegas is a ton of fun. It’s a whirlwind of business and culture and networking and parties and everything else that Vegas and the cannabis industry have to offer. But in some ways, its size can be an impediment to getting business done.
Consider the numbers from the 2017 event: 678 exhibitors and 18,000 attendees.
According to a story published by MJ Biz Daily, it would take somebody 45 minutes just to walk each aisle of the exhibition floor and nearly 57 hours to have a five-minute conversation with each vendor. And like many trade shows, those vendors cover every angle of the cannabis industry, with a large percentage focused on cultivation and processing.
– Retail is evolving: All avenues of the cannabis industry are evolving at a breakneck pace. Growers are getting more efficient. Processors are adopting new technology. Regulations are changing every day.
Cannabis retail is no different.
Fierce competition is forcing business owners to realize that marketing, branding, store design, product selection and inventory management are all crucial components to distinguish themselves from other shops.
Traceability requirements and the need for business intelligence are driving the demand for better, more advanced point-of-sale systems and software.
The explosive growth of CBD products is forcing retailers to rethink their strategy to stay ahead of a booming curve.
Dozens of household brands are taking a deeper look into the cannabis space to see how they might work with retailers and/or processors.
Onerous tax obligations are leading savvy operators to explore ways to improve their margins, which often means selling less cannabis and more add-ons and merchandise, including hats and clothing, non-infused food and drink products, paraphernalia, books, magazines, home-grow equipment and accessories — hell, maybe even video games.
It’s hard to say exactly what cannabis retail will look like in the next year or two as shops evolve and specialize and focus on solidifying their niche in the market.
The cottage industry that began with just a handful of states legalizing medical marijuana in the 1990s has all but disappeared. Even the early days of the rec sector are a distant memory as this third wave of marijuana retail sweeps the country.
If you’re involved in running a retail shop or dispensary, you can’t afford to maintain the status quo.
Garrett Rudolph is the editor of Marijuana Venture and SunGrower & Greenhouse magazines. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
The second RAD Expo will be Oct. 10-11 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. Admission is free for all retail and dispensary owners, managers, investors and license applicants. The event is not open to the public. Exhibitors and attendees can register online at www.theradexpo.com. For more information, call 425-656-3621 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.