When the City of Lakewood’s City Council banned all cannabis retailers from opening within city limits, those who had already received a state license to set up shop there were unsure how to proceed.
One license holder contacted Scott Mackie, a Seattle-area entrepreneur known for owning Funtasia Fun Park, a North Seattle family center, and Sea Salt Superstore, a large specialty salt and spice importer.
Mackie was interested in learning more about the new, fun, and potentially lucrative world of legal cannabis. He and his family began searching Washington for a more ideal and welcoming location.
They concluded that Otis Orchard, on the eastern boundaries of Spokane County, was a perfect place for a new cannabis shop. They acquired a retail license and bought an old home, which Scott and his 28-year-old son Nick Mackie spent two years converting into a suitable location.
“We were very lucky the house design was well-suited to be converted into a retail building,” Scott said. “We basically gutted most of the interior to create open ‘showroom space.’”
Primo Cannabis opened in January, off of Harvard Road just south of Trent Avenue, with Nick as co-manager. The other co-manager is Kathryn Younker, the shop’s purchaser.
“Nick helped build the business, and Kathryn has vast industry management and buying experience,” he said. “Together they make a great management team.”
Kathryn said the location is ideal for tourists and locals.
“We’ve been blowing up — we’re close to Liberty Lake and Newman Lake, and we’re the first shop that people coming into Washington from the east will hit,” she said.
Visitors will find excellent selections of flower, edibles and concentrates products from growers and processors across the state. The knowledgeable staff especially enjoys working with Inland Northwest farmers who grow pesticide-free products.
“We love building relationships with local growers — we want everyone to succeed,” Kathryn said.
The store wants to make sure all products are the highest – “primo” — quality, hence the name.
“We have a wide variety of items that people will enjoy,” Kathryn said. “This includes some budget and sale items; our customers want a little bit of everything, so that’s what we try to carry.”
She promotes Primo Cannabis on social media and enjoys sharing exciting things always taking place, including vendor days, daily specials and other fun reasons to drop by. She also helped the shop secure an easy-to-remember phone number (9333 conveniently spells WEED).
The shop was designed to be visually appealing for regular customers or those checking out a legal cannabis store for the first time. It features slate floors, soothing combinations of colors, and one wall made entirely of pink Himalayan salt.
There’s a resident chocolate Lab, Mocha, who customers love meeting, and a 14-foot tall, 14,000 pound sandstone sign monument outside that’s also attracts attention.
“We wanted to add a dramatic look to the front of the building,” Scott Mackie said.
Kathryn said everyone at Primo wants to make customers feel special and wanted.
“We think of our budtenders like bartenders,” she said. “Everyone is ultimately selling many of the same products you can get other places, but our goal is to provide super service and make people feel positive and happy about coming here.”
Scott Mackie agrees.
“We have a great staff of budtenders, supervisors and managers who all love cannabis and love offering great service, plus they’re extremely knowledgeable about the products,” he said.
The Primo staff is now working on other ways to help customers, including providing recommendations for those seeking cannabis for medical needs. Although some of the staff has medical certification from previous shops they’ve worked at, the store is working on earning official medical certification from the state of Washington.
Kathryn hopes to keep spreading the word about the shop.
“We definitely want to grow the brand,” she said. “We’ve had fun getting this one going and we plan to open more stores.”
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