Dispensaries come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small, neighborhood pot shops with a limited inventory; others are national chains with huge lines of branded merchandise. Yet, regardless of where a dispensary is located or the size of its showroom, there are a few qualities that guarantee a positive experience to those who venture inside.
Whether you are a canna-entrepreneur or a canna-consumer, you are invested in understanding what makes a dispensary great. Here are a few of the most important characteristics for a cannabis dispensary to have:
1. Excellent Ambiance
When you walk into a space and instantly feel better, you can be certain the owners of that space have worked hard to cultivate its ambiance.
There are dozens of elements that can affect the ambiance of a cannabis dispensary. Interior design is an important one; if a room isn’t designed to feel chic and welcoming, it likely won’t leave a positive impression on many visitors.
Successful interior design can vary, but most dispensaries opt for minimalism with natural elements, which allows a space to feel clean and fresh. Key elements of design include the placement of the merchandise, which should be easy for customers to see and access, as well as lighting and music, which can enhance the feeling of the space.
2. Well-trained Staff
The look and attitude of the staff can contribute to the ambiance, but the behavior of dispensary workers is much more important for the customer experience.
Amazing dispensaries provide significant training to their staff — not just to keep them informed on dispensary inventory and cannabis culture but to ensure that they are friendly and sincere in their interactions with customers.
The best budtenders are passionate about weed but boast endless patience, so they are capable of conversing with the most experienced canna-connoisseur and the greenest new stoner alike. It is equally important that budtenders understand common jargon and be able to talk about cannabis in regular language, so all customers feel informed, included and inclined to make purchases.
3. Broad Menu
To some extent, the menu of a dispensary is dependent on the laws and industry of the surrounding region. For example, the best Maine dispensary is likely to have less variety than an average pot shop in California, just because Maine’s cannabis culture is a bit less robust than that of the West Coast. Similarly, some states prohibit the sale of edibles or restrict THC levels.
Still, the best dispensaries work within their regulations to offer as wide a selection to their customers as they legally can. Menus should include a wide range of strains — with explanations of each strain’s cannabinoid content, terpene profile and common effects — as well as different forms of cannabis, like loose flower, pre-rolls, vape carts, oils, tinctures, concentrates and more.
Though a larger menu can be a bit more difficult for dispensary staff to manage, it shows that the dispensary is interested in catering to every customer's wants and needs.
4. Competitive Prices
Cannabis pricing is complex and ever-changing, thanks to shifting regulations, unstable demand and other variable forces. Still, good dispensaries find ways to keep their prices competitive, if not exactly low.
Customers should look for dispensaries that offer regular deals, like days of the week for BOGO savings, as well as loyalty programs that give members a discount on their purchases. These systems show that dispensaries are eager to make marijuana more accessible to all their customers.
5. Community Outreach
Cannabis is a social drug, and cannabis users always make themselves part of a community. Dispensaries should strive to do the same with services beyond the sale of cannabis products and paraphernalia.
Some dispensaries host community events, like poetry readings, art shows and small concerts; others donate a portion of their proceeds to a local charity or organize volunteer opportunities for staff and customers to give back. These community outreach efforts demonstrate how a small business can become integral to the success of a community and prove that canna-entrepreneurs aren’t only interested in cashing in on a major growth industry.
It doesn’t matter whether a dispensary is a multi-state chain with huge premises or a hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pot shop; every dispensary has the opportunity to be amazing. By investing in the right elements of the business — the design, the staff, the bud and the community — canna-entrepreneurs can see success.