The Herbery: Second store slowly taking off
Business is slowly but surely picking up at Vancouver’s newest pot shop, which opened late last month in the West Minnehaha neighborhood.
Tucked away near the quiet northern edge of Central Vancouver on St. Johns Boulevard, The Herbery’s second store gets far less foot traffic than Vancouver’s highest grossing sellers: Main Street Marijuana and New Vansterdam. On weekdays, The Herbery sees most of its business after 4 p.m., when people who live in the area stop by to buy a little pot on their way home from work, said Jim Mullen, the store’s co-owner.
Mullen’s new store held a soft opening on May 21. That day, it did only about $2,000 in sales. Two days later, The Herbery sold $6,400 worth of products during a much more highly marketed grand opening celebration with a sale on OG Kush for $4 a gram for the first 300 customers through the door.
The store finished May with $36,700 in sales, which amounted to $9,175 in excise tax revenue for the state, according to figures released by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Of course, that was only for 11 days of business. But even if the store had been open all month, at that rate it still would’ve fallen far short of the sales activity at Main Street Marijuana and New Vansterdam, which respectively did $1.75 million and nearly $1.18 million for May.
The competition has been tough. Hiring another crew to run the second store put a strain on finances. And while he envisions The Herbery eventually growing into a chain, for now, his two smaller stores are going up against the two top-selling pot shops in Washington.
New Vansterdam leads the pack with more than $9.15 million in gross sales since stores opened last July. Main Street Marijuana has surged ahead in 2015, coming out as the top grossing store in Washington for the past three months.
“In their first hour, they do as much as we do all day,” Mullen said. “The word of mouth is going to be huge for us, mostly to let people know where we are, you know, that they’ve got other options and that we’re out there.”
Some of Mullen’s customers are still just hearing about either of The Herbery’s locations for the first time, he said. With that in mind, Mullen’s working hard to market his brand.
At both of his stores, Mullen has employees out on the sidewalk tossing signs around to catch the attention of anyone passing by. And he recently put up a billboard along eastbound lanes of Highway 14. It’s hard to miss.
So far, pre-rolled joints and grams of flower have been the big sellers at Mullen’s second store. The average receipt per customer is a little less than $30, but Mullen expects that and daily sales to grow as his customers experiment with different strains and then come back to stock up on their favorites.
The Herbery recently became the only local store to carry the full line of Phat Panda, the flower product line from Spokane grower Grow Op Farms. The stuff’s one of the most popular sellers in Vancouver, and Mullen’s planning a special deal on Phat Panda strains for June 20.
Mullen also points out that his stores carry a variety of Vancouver-based Fairwinds products, which have also become big sellers. He was pretty happy to get a call about Forbes Magazine recently about Fairwinds’ cannabis-infused coffee, Catapult.
“You could definitely say we are very happy to carry the full line of Fairwinds’ premier products, including their new CBD tincture,” he said.
Mullen’s new store is the fifth in Vancouver and the sixth in Clark County. One more store, called Greenhead, appears to be opening soon not far from The Herbery’s second location.
– Justin Runquist