When it comes to individual cannabis retail stores, Top Crop in Ontario, Oregon, is not only one of the highest grossing stores in the Pacific Northwest, but also possibly one of the top performing stores in the nation — though co-founder Matt Chadwick prefers to keep the exact numbers a secret.
“Sales are one of those things that I like to keep a little bit close to the chest,” says Chadwick, the company’s managing partner. “But in February, we sold 461 pounds of just flower, and I think we’re averaging about 77,000 vape cartridges per month. It’s ridiculous.”
A huge part of the store’s success can be traced back to the No. 1 rule in retail: location, location, location. Top Crop is one of the closest and most convenient cannabis shops to the Idaho border. And while competitors might say Top Crop was lucky to win the location lottery, Chadwick says the store’s overwhelming success was anything but an accident. When he and his dad opened the first Top Crop location in Eugene in 2018, they set their eyes on Eastern Oregon next.
“It was all premeditated,” Chadwick says. “As a single shop, we didn’t have a lot of capital behind us, but we knew that Ontario would be the steppingstone to allow us to go interstate and it went exactly like we planned.”
One Step Ahead
When adult-use sales began in Washington and Oregon, many retailers rushed to find locations in major cities like Seattle and Portland because of the large populations. But when the owners of Top Crop in Eugene looked to open their second store, they chose to go east and found a location along the border with Idaho, the one state in the region without legal cannabis.
Chadwick says Top Crop is one of the only cannabis retail stores on the Oregon-Idaho border that originally came from Western Oregon. Having roots in Eugene, the company already had dozens of contacts and relationships with top-quality vendors from the Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, Portland and even Bend, a distinct advantage over other retailers in Eastern Oregon, where there were far fewer producers.
“We have pretty well-established relationships with our vendors and there’s a lot of products that we carry within our store that we have exclusive rights to in that market,” Chadwick says. “So that gives us even more of a competitive advantage over there.”
Top Crop’s late arrival in Eastern Oregon was a blessing in disguise as it gave Chadwick and his father ample time to onboard the company’s Ontario manager and to study the competition.
“We wanted customers to have one budtender to go through the entire purchasing process with,” he says. “That way it’s a lot more personal and you don’t feel like you’re getting carted around the store.”
The success of Top Crop’s Ontario store helped the company open an additional shop in Corvallis, as well as a soon-to-launch cultivation facility in Oregon and an expansion into New Mexico.
Run for the Border
Oregon’s backdoor to Idaho proved to be an effective strategy for Top Crop and the company is now looking to replicate it on a much, much bigger scale.
“We came out here with a game plan and we executed it,” Chadwick says. “Now we have the capital to expand into another location, which is New Mexico, and that’s another steppingstone to allow us to continue onto a nationwide scale.”
The lead-up to New Mexico’s recreational launch showed the same patterns as in Oregon and Washington, with the majority of retailers fighting over space near the state’s biggest population centers, this time in Albuquerque. Top Crop secured a prime location in Albuquerque, as well as a complementary location in Las Cruces, which sits just 26 miles from the Texas border and its 29 million residents.
“We wanted to make sure we locked in a couple of locations in Albuquerque for a long-term play,” Chadwick says. “But the real big play was the same reason we went to Ontario, and that’s to capitalize on a unique advantage of being right next to the border with limited competition and a large market.”
In addition to its retail spaces, Top Crop is building a state-of-the-art, 38,000-square-foot cultivation and processing facility in Las Cruces. The company partnered with multiple Oregon-based growers to operate the new cultivation facility.
“The one big thing that we’re going to bring to this state is quality product,” Chadwick says. “We ended up partnering with multiple growers up in Oregon, who we consider good friends of ours, but they’re also some of the top cultivators on the entire West Coast.”
A Family Affair
After launching an amazingly successful operation in Oregon and taking steps to duplicate that success in New Mexico, Chadwick says the absolute highlight of founding Top Crop is building the company together with family and friends.
“It takes an army to make something like this happen. Especially to the level that we’re trying to get to, you can’t do it by yourself,” he says. “We promised we wouldn’t leave anyone behind — that if you’re putting in the effort, the time and commitment, then the company is going to have your back.”
Chadwick says once he knew he and his father were going to open Top Crop in Eugene, he called four of his childhood friends to help run the business. Together they regularly saw 16-hour days working in the office and behind the counter, with very little time off. But each of them felt a personal stake in the company’s success and together the team and company took the steps to get everybody to the next level. Now, just four years later, the business has become a life-changing endeavor.
“All of us has moved from doing the absolute lowest level job in a dispensary all the way up to the top of a multi-state operation,” Chadwick says. “They’re helping us get to where we want to go in this industry, so we’re gonna make sure to take care of them as well.”