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Weed-Mart
January 27, 2011 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Two years ago, Mann says, he had never seen a pot plant. Today, he envisions weGrow becoming the "Wal-Mart of Weed", a vertically integrated chain of big-box stores perfectly positioned to cash in on California's booming marijuana industry as it moves from the shadows to the mainstream. In this "green rush" for semi-legal weed, Mann and his partner Derek Peterson, a 36-year-old investment banker, seek to be the modern equivalents of Levi Strauss and Samuel Brannan—the Gold Rush entrepreneurs who made a killing not from mining, but from selling pans, pickaxes, and victuals to the forty-niners.
posted by Joe Beese (43 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meaning he's planning to import everything from China, lower prices until he puts local dealers out of business and then jack them up again? And oppose any kind of union talk amongst his employees? etc., etc.
posted by Eideteker at 12:10 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


th;dr
posted by not_on_display at 12:12 PM on January 27, 2011 [25 favorites]


In related news, Obama has a Youtube townhall meeting going on right now and asked for questions from the audience. 198 of the top 200 questions concerned either the drug war or marijuana. (The other two questions were about clean energy).
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:15 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why do people consider it awesome to compare their business ventures to walmart?

It sucks.

I don't necessarily love the current system in california, but I am able to go to a dispensary and talk to my grower. I know exactly what plant products he puts in what strains...

With this shit, not only will I not get a good quality product, I won't be able to go to a legal competitor because they will all have been forced out of business by this new "walmart".

And of course, I would love to have someone who has never seen a plant coupled with a douchebag ibanker working on this.

"Boo".
posted by hal_c_on at 12:18 PM on January 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Where the first tech millionaires had Wired, the new "ganjapreneurs" have Rosebud, a glossy with ads for $230,000 Bentleys.

How fitting that they chose to name this magazine after a tycoon's dying lament over the loss of his humble roots and it's simple pleasures.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:18 PM on January 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


its, damnit!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:19 PM on January 27, 2011


Huh. So I guess we really are starting to get solid evidence, in practice and not just in theory, that a legal pot industry would stimulate the economy. That's nice. I'm sure this means that since there's a hard-nosed, economically sensible, politically viable reason to HURF DURF POTHEADS HEADLINES MADE OF PUNS

Oh right. Nevermind then.
posted by saturday_morning at 12:22 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't necessarily love the current system in california, but I am able to go to a dispensary and talk to my grower. I know exactly what plant products he puts in what strains...

With this shit, not only will I not get a good quality product, I won't be able to go to a legal competitor because they will all have been forced out of business by this new "walmart".


Just like there's no Apple Stores thanks to Best Buy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:23 PM on January 27, 2011


Just like there's no Apple Stores thanks to Best Buy.

Actually just like there's no mom and pop computer shops anymore thanks to best buy.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:32 PM on January 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Just like there's no micro-breweries thanks to Budweiser.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:35 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why do people consider it awesome to compare their business ventures to walmart?

Because Walmart makes a lot of money, duh.
posted by empath at 12:39 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if you want pot legal and to stay legal, you will probably need an evil company like walmart or phillip morris making a lot of money on it so they can properly bribe politicians.
posted by empath at 12:41 PM on January 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


But if you read to the end you'll learn he is just like the rest of us! He eats enchiladas when he has the munchies too!
posted by Hoenikker at 12:44 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


wal-mart sucks in a lot of ways, but prescription drugs is actually a bright shining point for them. they used their price muscling to force drug companies to offer a huge list of super cheap medications, a plan that stores like target then picked up. so comparing a marijuana dispensary to them doesn't have to be a negative.
posted by nadawi at 12:44 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah...Good luck with that cross-state-border shipping of all that paraphernalia.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:46 PM on January 27, 2011


> Why do people consider it awesome to compare their business ventures to walmart?

Because a lot of people don't have a kneejerk reaction to it and just associate WalMart as a dominant player.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:51 PM on January 27, 2011


Actually just like there's no mom and pop computer shops anymore thanks to best buy.

If that were a true statement I'd be worried!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:54 PM on January 27, 2011


Why do people consider it awesome to compare their business ventures to walmart?

I don't like Walmart either, and saying "Target" would probably appeal more to the average pot smoker, at least in the L.A. and SF areas. But that said, I don't think they are saying they want to lock their employees in and bust their attempts to unionize and etc etc etc. I think it's more meant to be, "This thing that used to be illegal and shady and done in back alleys could be a viable Main Street business."
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:10 PM on January 27, 2011


But the NorCal farmers fear that legalization would enable their urban competitors to move out of garages and closets and into warehouses, driving down prices and pushing them out of business. They fiercely opposed Proposition 19, the unsuccessful November ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use in California. All three counties of the Emerald Triangle, including liberal Humboldt and Mendocino, voted against it.
Fuck you guys. I mean it from the bottom of my heart… go choke on a sack of dicks you fucking assholes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:11 PM on January 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Of course, the bitter truth is this is all fantasy because pot is illegal under federal law, period. The US government is nice enough to look the other way, for now, but what happens when "Pot Mart" has to tell the IRS they made millions off weed last year?
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:12 PM on January 27, 2011


Actually just like there's no mom and pop computer shops anymore thanks to best buy.

Yeah, I can only speak for L.A., but if you want to choose from seven or eight random USB cables arrayed on a dusty shelf and marked up to $20 each, you still have plenty of options.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:16 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is a serious question what is the "value-add" on a mom and pop computer store.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:24 PM on January 27, 2011


"Yeah...Good luck with that cross-state-border shipping of all that paraphernalia."

So, this will stimulate local manufacturing businesses and reinvestment back into our own state? Sounds pretty good to me with "official" unemployment at over 12%.

Made right here in CALIFORNIA, USA by AMERICANS! (perhaps a loose definition of Americans there)
posted by zoogleplex at 1:28 PM on January 27, 2011


Actually just like there's no mom and pop computer shops anymore thanks to best buy.

And there's no farmer's markets thanks to Costco? Or even better, there's no indie drug stores thanks to CVS?

Anyway, what killed mom and pop computer stores was the internet, not Best Buy.
posted by aspo at 1:30 PM on January 27, 2011


This is a serious question what is the "value-add" on a mom and pop computer store.

Expertise mainly. The shop owner is likely knowledgeable about his product, more so than the minimum wage sales clerk at Best Buy, so the mom and pop can provide better service / support.
posted by oblio_one at 1:32 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


> This is a serious question what is the "value-add" on a mom and pop computer store.

Profits are spent in the local community.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:35 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


the profits of a couple mom and pops doesn't match the wages earned and spent by all the people who work for best buy in a town.

and,maybe you've been to different computer stores than i have - but the expertise i've mostly found is of the windbag variety.
posted by nadawi at 1:41 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't really see how his vertically-integrated supply chain is an improvement over the grow a couple plants in your backyard and then smoke them vertically-integrated supply chain.
posted by snofoam at 1:57 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really don't know about other cities, but Spokane WA has a lot of mom-and-pop computer stores. They offer varying levels of service -- some have actual inventory, others work on a placed-order basis only. But they are hardly dead, at least not here. Perhaps other places have experienced more of a die-off.
posted by hippybear at 1:58 PM on January 27, 2011


Fanchised grow shops are already here in my state, serving customers without explicitly mentioning anything illegal, at least in the print ads, because medical MJ cultivation is not legal at this time. Everything you need to grow, including good seeds, is also widely sold online at competitive prices.

Here in New England it looks like Maine might soon have storefront MJ card clubs. (They have "LIVE FREE OR DIE" on the licence plates in New Hampshire, but in Maine they tend to actually do it.)
posted by longsleeves at 2:04 PM on January 27, 2011


The federal government will legalize pot as soon as Archer Daniels Midland figures out how to saturate it with high fructose corn syrup.
posted by newmoistness at 2:42 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually just like there's no mom and pop computer shops anymore thanks to best buy.
posted by hal_c_on


Actually, the margins for computer parts being terribly low, pressure from online sales, and the fact that no one buys higher-margin desktop machines anymore were some of the larger contributing factors. Selling laptops out of a mom and pop store is a high-risk proposition, because if the product doesn't sell within a month, if not immediately, depreciation sets in and the aforementioned margins get ever tighter until you have to sell it at a loss just to recoup some operating capital. Geek Squad's insanely expensive service was never a threat to the computer stores I worked at.

On the topic of the article: As long as the product continues to be locally grown and there is still a cottage industry, I can't see how this is can be a bad thing. People have had to buy weed directly from other people for so long that the prospect of walking into a storefront just sounds strange to me. If the quality goes up and the availability goes up and growers and shopfronts pay taxes to local government, I feel that it is hard to go wrong. It is considerably less unsavory to my liberal mind than trying to fund entire programs using the lottery.
posted by tmt at 2:55 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


(They have "LIVE FREE OR DIE" on the licence plates in New Hampshire, but in Maine they tend to actually do it.)

LIVE FREE OR DIE! unless your religious convictions lead you to cover up that slogan on your license plates with reflective tape.
posted by hippybear at 2:58 PM on January 27, 2011


The federal government will legalize pot as soon as Archer Daniels Midland figures out how to saturate it with high fructose corn syrup.

Four words: Little Debbie Pot Brownies.
posted by girih knot at 3:04 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


But have these businessmen prepared to confront the competition from weed-firing catapults?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:30 PM on January 27, 2011


The heated discussion in this thread has brought me to a serious question...

Why am I still living in New York?
posted by Splunge at 3:51 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Legal weed = these losers no longer control market share.

Nor the Mexican cartels.

Marijuana is the tops for "legislisation" - decriminalize but not for cross-border trafficking. Homegrown (in the US, for US consumption, grown in Canada for Canadian consumption) would go a looong way in spending less money on police action and satisfy anti-Mexican racism and perhaps funding violent gangs.

If the "war on some drugs" ended, pot could be grown by people who cared about people who smoked or otherwise injested 'weed.' Instead of smoking lots of crappy Mexican brick, people could be smoking much smaller amounts of much higher quality weed which decreases the risks of lung cancer or whatever smoking tabacco cigarettes causes.

Prohibition encourages dealers to spike pot with other stuff; the harder the crackdown, the harder it was to find clean weed. Dealers need someone to sell to; pot smokers don't get addicted like meth or crack smokers do.

posted by porpoise at 10:28 PM on January 27, 2011


it looks like Maine might soon have storefront MJ card clubs

A friend of mine has a prescription; he's also a restaurant owner. I was hanging out with him at the restaurant one night and he whips out a bag of weed and starts rolling at the bar. The smell just about knocked everyone over—employees and customers alike. Yet while everyone saw him rolling out in the open, and presumably didn't know he had a prescription, nobody said a word against him. No frantic 911 calls. No angry WAH SECOND HAND SMOKE crazies. It almost felt like I was living in a civilized country.

They have "LIVE FREE OR DIE" on the licence plates in New Hampshire, but in Maine they tend to actually do it.

New Hampshire is so full of shit. I once passed a car going 10 mph. in a 40 zone by using one of those asinine 2-way "chicken" lanes (yeah, I know you're not supposed to do that, but COME ON MAN, TEN MPH!?). Anyway as soon as the goon realized I was trying to pass him he speeds up like a fucking retard (if you'd just done that all along I wouldn't have tried to pass you in the first place, asshole, but nice to see you've woken up from your little sleep!). Anyway, I pass him because my car is faster and I had the jump on him anyway.

So, fifteen minutes later I pull into a fast food drive through and the idiot pulls up next to me screaming bloody murder. "What in the hell was that?!" And my girlfriend at the time, bless her, rolls down her window and says, "You mean you were just following us around for the past fifteen minutes? Don't you have anything better to do?"

And the answer is No. No, they don't have anything better to do because it's fucking New Hampshire.

Go Maine. Well, go coastal Maine.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:21 PM on January 27, 2011


Why am I still living in New York?

Got to be the cheap rent.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:22 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I totally closed that italics tag, by the way.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:23 PM on January 27, 2011


If pot becomes legal won't Wal-Mart become the Wal-Mart of Weed?
posted by Talanvor at 12:47 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


the modern equivalents of Levi Strauss and Samuel Brannan—the Gold Rush entrepreneurs who made a killing not from mining, but from selling pans, pickaxes, and victuals to the forty-niners.

Strauss' fortune wasn't gained through his retail operations, but by ponying up the money (50 dollars iirc) Jacob Davis needed to patent his new invention, copper riveted jeans.

/derail
posted by JaredSeth at 9:20 AM on January 28, 2011


wal-mart sucks in a lot of ways, but prescription drugs is actually a bright shining point for them. they used their price muscling to force drug companies to offer a huge list of super cheap medications, a plan that stores like target then picked up. so comparing a marijuana dispensary to them doesn't have to be a negative.

I don't know about bright shining point. Walmart is known for cheap prices, thats nothing new. I like how cheetos are probably cheapest at walmart...but the fact remains that there is a DEFINITE cost to this cheapness.

Cheap food and products are at the expense of the workers who are involved in getting those products to you. So yeah, the cheetos are cheap, but because walmart uses their muscle to wrangle those prices to what they want, people are getting paid less.

Walmart isn't lowering prescription prices out of the good of its heart, but because it makes them money in the end. The prescription plan seems GREAT...until you realize that its a PR move used to cover up the fact that walmart insurance for employees suck. But hey, give people $4 prescriptions and they will forget that the people who they are buying from work at an employer that would prefer it if their employees died on the job so they can cash in on an insurance policy.

Its also extremely dirty that a good portion of their employees are on govt-assistance health benefits because walmart encourages them to. So yeah, awesome that you got the $4 antibiotics. I hope you enjoy paying extra taxes so that some full-time walmart employees can get state assistance for health insurance.

This is a serious question what is the "value-add" on a mom and pop computer store.

I have gone to best buy/apple store NUMEROUS times buying all sorts of shit that I needed to return because it wasn't how the salesperson described it. People working at best buy aren't trained with the knowledge necessary to get their customers what they need; they are trained with the knowledge to sell their customers what best buy wants to sell them. So if you have all the knowledge to buy exactly what you want, best buy is awesome. But if you don't, then you can't just wander in there looking for a solution and expecting one that works.

Also, I'd much rather have the dollars I spend on computer gear go to re-energize the local community than be sent down to bentonville, arkansas.

the profits of a couple mom and pops doesn't match the wages earned and spent by all the people who work for best buy in a town.

I agree with your first point wholeheartedly. But you are failing to recognize that the "couple mom and pops" would have been making enough money to sustain themselves and run a successful business. Best buy pays workers at around $9/hour (can someone chime in on an exact number). Busting up locally owned businesses so that you can hire an army of people who are barely subsisting on krap wages is NOT a good trade-off.

and,maybe you've been to different computer stores than i have - but the expertise i've mostly found is of the windbag variety.

Salespeople are salespeople...and experiences vary. I can't defend anecdotal windbags.

As long as the product continues to be locally grown and there is still a cottage industry, I can't see how this is can be a bad thing.

I agree...but I don't think that wegrow has any plans to do this. I'm pretty sure they are combining millions and millions of dollars so they can do everything cheaper with volume. Then their prices will be dramatically cheaper than the local businesses. After the local businesses die off, they are the only game in town...and I don't really trust ibankers to not take advantage of this fact just like walmart does and raise prices.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:30 PM on January 28, 2011


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