Good afternoon, morning, evening or day! Rob Hendrix here with another in a series of articles discussing final preparations immediately prior to the much anticipated Grand Opening of your retail shop.
By this time, a mere days prior to Grand Opening, if you are like me on the eve of my own opening, your stomach is churning. You are, to put it mildly, a nervous wreck! Not because you haven’t gone through many, many steps to arrive at this moment only hours from the actual unveiling of your new business, but because you are a good person or are good people, respected in your community and you are about to open a pot shop! Who would have ever thought this? Not me, just five years before, if anyone had told me I would be the owner of a pot store in my hometown, I would have thought you certifiable! But nonetheless, here we are.
There are many things that could occur, might occur, and probably will occur surrounding the announcement that you are licensed by the State or Province and you are in the planning stages of opening a legal Cannabis retail shop. Many things that could and probably occur are going to hurt, maybe a little, maybe a lot. But now, it’s upon you and your family and while there is much to discuss in the lead up to the Big Day, today I’m going to tell you about how I reached out to local government and local law enforcement.
My store opened on a Monday in August but I held a very important meeting at my shop the Friday before. I had previously invited the City Attorney, City Manager, Chief of Police as well as the Fire Marshal to attend a meeting to discuss their collective concerns, suggestions, and/or questions.
To my relief and surprise they all showed up at 2:00 as per the invitation. The City employees were in dress casual work attire but the Fire Marshal and Chief of Police were in full, on duty uniform including sidearms! My wife, Diane, was there with me to create a better first impression, and I must say, it all came off as well as I could have hoped.
They all were all extremely respectful and expressed their surprise and appreciation at the suggestion such a meeting take place. They were grateful to be able to meet privately and ask questions, voice concerns, address rumors and in total, get to know me and my plans better. We met for nearly two hours and the time flew by. At no time during this two hour meeting did I feel uncomfortable. The level of discomfort for the Chief however was initially quite high; he squirmed and frowned and rolled his eyes several times in the early part of the meeting, but then I began to notice in his body language a relaxing taking place at about the one hour mark. He finally relented and said, “Oh gosh, I can tell you are good people and you’re going to do a good job. But you’ve got to give me some time to get used to all this. After all, I’ve got 34 years of law enforcement experience and training working against me!”.
And you know what, he became a good friend as time went along and stopped off at the diner next door for breakfast often. It was a delight, for me at least, to spy him in the diner eating his breakfast in relative quiet and in full uniform, and sneak up on him and sit down with great fanfare on the bar stool immediately next to him! He would pretend to be uncomfortable sitting next to the pot shop owner in town but I knew better. He and I would talk about all sorts of things. I would always try to buy his breakfast and he would always politely turn down my offer, but he appreciated the gesture. He needed more time before he could get to that point in a public setting!
I found out something else about this good and decent public servant; he had issued a memo at the police station asking the cops on duty to drive by the shop to check on things periodically, more periodically than other businesses. This was due to his feeling a genuine concern for our well-being and safety, especially early on in our existence. Although none of us in the business believed we would experience an uptick in crime related to our business, the Chief felt we may be in an additional amount of danger as a result of opening this still controversial business. He called for his officers to make their presence known and especially near closing time, swing in to have a look-see. I never took this as anything other than real concern for all of our employees but I also know he felt a sense of extra responsibility to yours truly, this straight laced turned pot shop owner! As much as I tried to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation, I am not convinced he ever really knew how much that extra effort on his part meant to me. I will never forget it.
My point is this; be proactive. And especially be proactive with those whom you feel may be harboring negative sentiments about this new venture. I took the time to give these professionals in my beloved hometown an inside look at this industry. They were curious, concerned and cautious. They wanted to do their jobs but I believe they wanted to help us too. It was a good decision, having this meeting, one I am very proud of, but they showed up so I give them all the credit. I was nervous in the beginning but their resolute professionalism followed by their child-like curiosity and seemingly endless questions put me at ease and created a great beginning atmosphere relationship between Cannabis Central and the City of Ellensburg. I am very fortunate but to a great degree, I feel one makes his or her own good luck.
Of course, it was only the beginning. As you may have guessed, I’ll have more to say about being a worthy partner with your town and neighbors. Stay tuned!
Thanks for listening. Make it a great day!