Located in Martinez just off the Highway 4/680 interchange, Velvet Cannabis quietly opened its doors in late May as the first and only cannabis dispensary in Central Contra Costa County. Founded by East Bay natives Matt Morea and Farid Harrison, Velvet brings a refined retail experience to the area, featuring a sleek and sophisticated design, an expert staff and a cutting edge and reliable menu of world-class cannabis.
“We are extremely excited to bring what we believe is an elevated experience in cannabis to the East Bay,” says Morea. “This region has been underserved for a long time, forcing people along the 680 corridor to drive to Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and beyond. We are not only giving them a place in their own backyard but have created a destination that is efficient, comfortable, and highly personalized.”
Born and raised in San Ramon and Walnut Creek, respectively, Morea and Harrison have been friends for more than 15 years. Both longtime cannabis enthusiasts and passionate about its benefits, they embarked on completely different career trajectories – Morea in corporate sales and management, and Harrison in tech sales and real estate. Anxious for a change, and with the impending legalization of recreational cannabis in California in 2018, they decided to get into the business of something they loved, and the vision of Velvet was born.
As the duo started to lay the groundwork for Velvet’s future, Morea pivoted to positions in cannabis sales with Privateer Holdings and later CannaCraft, giving him an opportunity to learn about the cannabis supply chain and connect with some of the best operators and thought leaders in the field. This experience, combined with Harrison’s real estate and business expertise, along with the deep ties to the area, gives Velvet not only a true connection to the community but a team dedicated to and incredibly knowledgeable of the product.
Cannabis enthusiasts, curious consumers, recreational and medicinal users will find a highly curated selection of the best lab-tested CBD and THC products at Velvet, organized as “good, better, and best” when it comes to pricing. The well-informed and full-service crew is happy to take guests through its selection of flowers, pre-rolls, vaporizers, concentrates, edibles, topicals, tinctures and more – featuring industry leading brands consumers have come to know as well as some of the newest products and brands to hit the market.
Velvet partnered with Walnut Creek’s BALI Construction and Alhambra Valley Millworks to build out the existing 2500 square foot industrial space at 4808 Sunrise Drive. To help conceptualize the interior, Morea and Harrison brought on Gi Paoletti Design Lab, a San Francisco-based interior designer with more than two decades of experience in mixed-use development, resort, restaurant, and bar design. “We had the unique opportunity to work with a space that features floor to ceiling windows and it was important for us to take advantage of that natural light and its ability to make a retail space open and – most importantly – inviting,” says Paoletti.
Leveraging the existing brand aesthetic of Velvet, Paoletti explored materials and hues that would seamlessly tie the space together. The entryway welcomes guests with an air plant display of Velvet’s logo installed by Florali flower shop in Walnut Creek, owned by Harrison’s brother. Small window seats are interspersed among grey retail displays alongside the windows, bringing guests into the retail experience and making it easy to browse products or consult with one of Velvet’s experienced budtenders. On the opposite side, a 40-foot customized bud bar is centered by a backlit Velvet logo and gives guests a place to drop in and pick up a to-go order or consult with a budtender on their personal needs. Accent walls on either side of the bud bar and between retail shelves feature black botanical weed wallpaper by New York’s Brett Design and ties the space together with warm purple, green and pink accents. “It is the first time I’ve used cannabis wallpaper in a space,” says Paoletti. “It is classy, sophisticated, warm and adds a little intrigue – everything Velvet.”
In addition to Velvet, Paoletti’s design achievements include San Francisco’s Maven, Noir Lounge and Sushirrito restaurants, Rootstock in Los Gatos, and a private resort in Marin. She also worked with other cannabis facilities and retail spaces in California.
Velvet is conveniently located at 4808 Sunrise Drive (at Pacheco Blvd.) in Martinez, CA – just 11 miles from downtown Walnut Creek and minutes from the Highway 4/680 interchange. It is open daily from 9am to 8pm with online ordering for pick up until 7:30pm daily. The team offers discounts for seniors over the age of 55, active military personnel and veterans. Guests can also enjoy weekly specials and happy hour pricing every Thursday from 2pm to 4pm.
Velvet is excited to welcome the community into the retail space and is currently adhering to the best practices surrounding COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines set forth by Contra Costa County.