In the pre-legal days, the better cannabis sellers were all about customer service.
“When you visited your guy, you would sit down and talk for awhile, catch up, maybe share some stuff, and have a good visit – you didn’t just take your purchase and leave,” said Steve Burks, owner of the TreeHouse Club, a Spokane Valley retailer. “We wanted to provide the same experience, minus the sharing.”
Since the store opened in 2014, Burks and staff have worked hard to make TreeHouse Club this kind of welcoming, personal place, where customers trust what they’re getting and who they’re getting it from.
“We’ve always wanted to focus on service, and building these relationships,” he said.
The shop also tries to have something for everyone, from medical patients needing items for pain relief or certain health conditions to the person simply wanting to have some fun. There’s a “budget bud” section with value-priced goods, and an area with higher-end premium items as well. A blend of edibles and concentrates are available, along with an extensive section of glassware from regional artists.
Jenn Bordoy, store manager, said the TreeHouse Club wants to be known as a full-service location with products for every type of cannabis enthusiast and consumer.
“We are able to reach everyone’s price range, and have high-quality standards in everything we sell,” she said. “We also make sure we don’t focus on what we like, but what the customers need.”
The shop offers products from growers around the state, with special emphasis on Eastern Washington producers/processors like Bangs Cannabis, Blue Roots, Firehouse, BudCo and Virginia Company.
Burks said he really likes seeing how some customers have their favorite budtenders.
“We have some regulars who come in and wait until the guy or girl they like working with the most is free,” he said. “They become their best friend. The rest of the staff isn’t offended either, and it makes the budtender feel great.”
He said employees really love helping people and everyone gets along. Both of these factors keep turnover low and knowledge high.
“We have 13 employees, and haven’t had to replace anyone in more than a year, and three of them have been there for more than three years,” he said. “Customers really enjoy seeing so many familiar faces.”
Burks has been a fan of cannabis for years, but originally considered growing it, not selling it.
“I got out of the military in 2010 and started smoking,” he said. “In 2012, the laws were changing and I became interested in the business part of it.”
While friends thought he would do fine as a legal grower, some suggested his interests and skills were more suited to the retail side and working with people.
So he sought business advice from his step-dad and his mom, a bookkeeper for 30 years. He found investors and was chosen for a state retail license. They began looking for a location and decided to convert a home on Trent Avenue into a store.
“Some shops are in stand-alone storefronts or strip malls, but we thought something that was in a house made it especially welcoming,” Burks said.
He and his step-dad, Steve, who both were RV technicians, spent several weeks working on the interior and the exterior. The outside even has a treehouse that’s noticeable from the road. (Fun fact: the store name has a double meaning: besides the rustic, woodsy and fun connotation of the classic treehouse, the name also has the word THC, an active ingredient in cannabis.).
Burks has enjoyed the success so far, and is looking forward to 2018 and beyond. The store is working on developing an online ordering system, which will make the customer experience even more satisfying.
The shop also has a web site that contains great info about its budtenders and products. Bordoy is also working to expand the shop’s outreach, including a customer loyalty program.
“We’re always working to expand our services, and creating a greater shopping experience,” she said.