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Marijuana dispensaries in Adrian say they have been busy since recreational sales started in April

ADRIAN — Despite a number of businesses jockeying to carve out a space in the Adrian marijuana landscape, each is finding early success in recreational sales.

On April 24, the first recreational marijuana sales were made at North Coast Provisions and Amazing Budz. In the coming weeks and months, four other shops joined them. Today, cannabis users have plenty of options to choose from with six dispensaries offering recreational products.

“We thought COVID would initially impact sales,” said Michael Dowdell, director of retail for Lume Cannabis Co., but, he said, the Adrian location has seen sales increase month after month.

Lume, 738 S. Main St., opened selling medicinal marijuana products in February and launched recreational sales in May.

Down the street is Adrian’s newest marijuana retailer — Heads Cannabis, 913 S. Main St. — which opened in June. Manager Abe Aoun said once they started using Weedmaps, an online platform where customers can see product selection and place orders, sales took off.

“We also have started to build up a loyal customer base despite all the established competition in the area,” he said in an email. “Depending on the day of the week we can have 100 to 500 customers per day.”

Aoun said there have been lines, but the wait hasn’t kept people away.

“They all say the competitive price and the exceptional quality is well worth the wait,” he said. “We are steadily growing as we build up a reputation for a great product at the most reasonable prices with the community.”

Dowdell said they’ve had a similar amount of foot traffic in their stores. Lume has 10 locations across the state including Big Rapids, Kalamazoo, Mackinaw City and Petoskey.

North Coast owner and CEO Sean McQuarrie told The Daily Telegram they’ve seen a fivefold increase in business since they started recreational sales, averaging 200 customers per day.

“It’s gone really, really well, I think,” he said. “Even during a pandemic, it has exceeded our expectations. It’s been much busier than I thought it would.”

Flower is the top seller at shops that spoke to the Telegram for this story.

McQuarrie said flower, or bud, accounts for 40% to 45% of North Coast’s sales.

Edibles are becoming increasingly popular, especially gummies.

Co-owner of Highwire Farms Eric Kennedy said edibles offer an alternative to those who cannot or don’t want to smoke marijuana. They’re also more discreet.

Dispensary-purchased edibles are easy to dose, which is another appealing factor, according to Kennedy. A common experience for many cannabis users is taking too much of a street-bought edible and having an intense high.

Prepackaged edibles come with easy-to-follow directions on how to dose by milligrams.

Pinning down just one reason why marijuana sales remain strong for nearly every business during a pandemic and struggling economy likely oversimplifies customer trends.

McQuarrie said there are likely a few reasons.

There’s the novelty of it, finally being able to buy a product, in a store, legally, for the very first time.

Not needing a medical card is another. McQuarrie said there are customers buying recreational marijuana because they didn’t want to go through the process of getting a medical card or not wanting the stigmatization that comes with it, especially with job applications.

“I think it’s opened the doors for a lot of people,” he said.

And then there’s quarantine. Similar to how liquor stores have done well, McQuarrie said some success can be attributed to people stuck at home with nothing to do.

“I think part of it is people are bored at home,” he said.

Worth noting, these early successes came during a time when many shops were restricted to curbside and delivery only. McQuarrie said about 40% of North Coast’s business is still curbside.

As the local market becomes more saturated, businesses will need to find a way to set themselves apart from one another.

For Highwire, it’s building a brand of customer service. Kennedy said budtenders are instructed to be good listeners, hear out customers and be a “professional seller.”

“We hire based on a lot of factors and how they translate on the sales floor,” he said. “I think our group is as good as anyone in the city, or the state for that matter.”

Having one of the more unique layouts can’t hurt either. Highwire has an aesthetic the owners call industrial farm. Walls have a faux brick look, and the glossy countertops are made of maple and walnut wood.

Highwire has also put a unique spin on reward programs.

Discounts, deals and specials are common at a dispensary, but at Highwire customers can join Canna Co-op.

For a monthly fee, customers can join Canna Co-op, which gives them access to exclusive products and discounts. Members also have access to monthly educational meetings. Topics range from how to use concentrates, the basics of terpenes — the organic compounds that give strains their effects — and how to dose edibles.

Kennedy said the co-op also provides networking opportunities where people who grow their own products can learn from other growers.

Lume has found success through its own branded products.

Anyone in the industry will tell you product supply has yet to catch up to demand. With its own cultivation site in Evart in northern Michigan, Lume has reduced supply concerns by always having its own stock on hand.

Dowdell said Lume stores are always in stock and their own products have been some of their best sellers. Lume products are marketed based on their effects. Effects include “dream,” “focus,” “move” and “recover.”

Dowdell said these have been popular among customers as they can find what they are looking for.

Prices are expected to drop once supply catches up to demand. At that point, it’ll be a race to the bottom and then the industry will rebound, according to Kennedy.

“There are going to be people who fall off,” he said.

Amazing Budz did not respond to questions by end of the day Friday. Gage Cannabis Co. did not respond to an initial inquiry.

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