On April 20, 2015, Green Leaf Recreational in Bellingham, Washington, held a vendor fair to celebrate what has become known as marijuana’s holiday. This wasn’t just a simple celebration of the first 4/20 since recreational marijuana has been legal to sell in Washington—this event also marked the day that the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed Green Leaf as a member.
Green Leaf, currently the only recreational marijuana shop in Bellingham to be a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, opened its doors in August 2014.
The event was from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and there was a constant stream of people flowing in and out of the shop. As the day progressed and got closer to the 4:20 Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting, the crowd just kept growing in size. All the employees of Green Leaf were eager to see each person step through the door and help direct them around the room.
After stepping inside Green Leaf you would have see that the store was set up like a mini-convention. Each vendor had a few feet of counter space starting on the left and wrapping around the deep room and ending at the cash register on the right. Each counter case held either ornate glassware or a dizzying variety of THC products—oils, chocolates and an expansive selection of marijuana varieties. Crescendo Chocolates even offered THC-free samples of many of their products.
In addition to 420 specials and access to vendors, the store held an hourly drawing and had a complimentary snack table.
Adrian Reinstein, the administrator for Green Leaf, was excited about the event and the meaning behind it. The Chamber of Commerce is traditionally more of a conservative organization, and being a member can help plug the store into the community and offer networking opportunities with other local businesses. Beyond this though, Reinstein was more excited about the further implications, that it would not only give opportunities to the store, but also “go beyond networking and show that the industry as a whole can add value to the community.”
Many local and state vendors were in attendance, from tier I to tier III. These included Crescendo Chocolates, Bellingham-based chocolatier; Salish Sativa, Bellingham-based producer/processor; AlderEgo, Tacoma-based distributor; and Medicine Woman Farm, Snohomish County-based producer.
One sales associate was very happy with the turnout, and is convinced this will not be the last of this kind of event in the Bellingham store. “It’s great because it gives customers the chance to not only get more informed about what they are buying, but the chance to interact with the people behind the products.”
Headquartered in Tacoma, an AlderEgo representative was of a similar opinion. AlderEgo, a distributor of premium brands for all things THC-related for both medical and recreational marijuana, was impressed with the attendance. While he recognized that flaws might exist in Washington’s current marijuana laws, specifically the exorbitant taxing, he sees everything happening as a positive because it is helping remove the stigma from a once vilified product. AlderEgo itself has been incredibly fast-growing and proof of the exploding industry, branching out into Oregon and soon Nevada.
After the success of the event, Reinstein hopes to see not just a bounce in the store traffic, but in the industry as well. Time will tell, but it seems that the industry is slowly gaining a strong foothold in the country’s economy.