When you go into a cannabis store, your purchase – you hope – will make you feel good. But what about doing some good, as in making the world a better place?
Have a Heart puts this philosophy front and center. The cannabis retailer sponsors many causes, such veteran outreach, the Women’s March and cancer awareness.
Have a Heart employees are unionized, something management welcomes. Its 400 employees are represented by UFCW 21, which has allowed workers to receive pension plans and benefits.
“We have the basic philosophy to do good,” said Ed Mitchell, chief operating officer for Have a Heart.
One of the Seattle-based company’s mottos is, “Good Vibes Are on the Way,” making it feel like you’re doing more than just buying another gram when you spend your money.
This business approach is undeniably successful.
Have a Heart has five shops in the Seattle area and in one in Ocean Shores. The company’s Belltown store is one of Seattle’s top retailers; its King County operations rank No. 2 in sales statewide, according to state statistics.
Have a Heart has expanded to California with four retail locations, and recently added a store in Oregon. In Iowa, Have a Heart also operates two medical dispensaries.
Besides spreading the good vibes, Have a Heart offers some interesting customer experience innovations.
Have a Heart stores feature original artwork. The Belltown store, for instance, has a playful sculpture of a giant joint. Its Lake Forest Park store showcases colorful murals on the walls and neon lighting.
“All of our stores are kind of like going to Disneyland,” Mitchell said.
The retail operations also offer inviting open floor plans with display cases along the walls. You can speak to a sales associate for advice, or simply browse among the offerings.
When you’re ready, you can use a touch-screen monitor to place your order. Store staff will fill your request behind the scenes, then you can purchase and receive your product at the cash register. The effect is to give customers time to look around without the pressure of deciding at a counter with a budtender hovering nearby, waiting for you to make a selection.
“It’s funny how the open floor gives this feeling of being able to hang out and talk with people,” Mitchell said. And Have a Heart’s budtenders are trained rigorously to be “very knowledgeable and make great recommendations,” he added.
For those who know what they want, Have a Heart also offers online ordering, so your purchase will be ready as soon as you walk in.
“Speed is an issue for a lot of people,” Mitchell said, and many customers know what they want and appreciate getting in and out quickly.
In the future, Have a Heart will continue to expand, most heavily in California, Mitchell said.
“We’ve decided we really fit well on the West Coast,” he said.
Along with positive growth comes a share of difficulties. Every state has different regulations and most municipalities put additional requirements on cannabis dispensaries.
“The farther we get away from headquarters, the bigger our challenges are,” Mitchell said. “There’s a lot of complexity that comes with all the variations.”
Looking ahead, Mitchell sees changes for the industry. The health benefits of cannabis are only now being discovered through new research.
And companies such as Have a Heart are going to get better at recommending strains that people enjoy, Mitchell said.
“The stigma that comes along with the product is going to change over time,”” he said.
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