Interior Design Can Be The Difference Between Dispensary Success and Failure
My first Colorado dispensary experience wasn’t positive – or comfortable. Let me explain.
Colorado’s legal recreational cannabis sales started on January 1, 2014. Lines wrapped around buildings state-wide, but Denver’s “Green Mile,” attracted crowds of stoners as far as the eye could see. The Green Mile is a stretch of South Broadway with dispensaries on every corner for those reading who are unfamiliar.
Too many first-time dispensary shoppers land on that strip of South Broadway, visit one or two cannabis retailers and never return. Here’s why:
Dispensaries are competing in a fierce race to the bottom on the Green Mile. It’s the skid row of pot shops. My comments are harsh, but with purpose. Colorado’s legal cannabis market is maturing, and so are its customers. Dispensaries can’t get away with slapping a green cross on the exterior of a building time forgot and expect to succeed.
Let’s get back to my first dispensary visit.
I grew up in the era of cannabis prohibition, and I carried the baggage of stigmatization in my back pocket as I walked down a staircase to make my first legal cannabis purchase. I approached a locked door surrounded by cameras, and as instructed by a hand-written sign, rang a bell for entry.
The door unlocked with a jarring metallic clack, and on the other side, I found a dark waiting room with thrift store furniture, a few High Times magazines strewn across the coffee table, and a person behind glass checking customer IDs.
The new legal cannabis industry felt anything but legal – or comfortable. And my experience isn’t unique. Cannabis shoppers in 2014 encountered an industry figuring things out as it went along – with a lot of missed details, like an exceptional in-store experience.
Things are changing, but not fast enough.
It’s 2020, and fortunately, cannabis retail is evolving. But there are still too many dispensaries in legal markets overlooking interior design when planning their businesses.
Dispensary experiences often don’t match up with our modern cannabis story—a story of positivity, wellness, and hangover-free fun.
Every cannabis business owner wants to attract an audience outside its core customer base (i.e., stoners). They’re looking for entry into the communities of wellness enthusiasts, moms, baby boomers, and seniors. And they should, after all, cannabis needs to shed the stereotypes and stigmatization from America’s War on Drugs and attract an evolved consumer base.
But attracting first-time consumers is impossible if your dispensary feels like a teenager’s basement bedroom or a college dorm. Hear me out.
Your dispensary interior design is as important as your brand identity.
Dispensaries are the physical embodiment of everything your brand represents, so you need to plan your store’s design during brand development.
Because excellent interior design does three primary things:
- Makes people comfortable while shopping (relaxed shoppers open their wallets)
- Separates your cannabis dispensary from bargain-basement pot shops
- Attracts new customers
When customers step into your beautiful and thoughtfully planned dispensary, they’ll feel relaxed. Relaxed customers often spend more money, and, more importantly, they come back again and again (and tell others about their experience).
Here’s another critical point: investing time and money to plan and build a beautiful store, tells customers you’re selling high-quality cannabis – not commodity cannabis. And that’s an essential distinction in an increasingly cutthroat and competitive marketplace.
I don’t blame you for wondering why a marketing Content Director is writing a blog about dispensary interior design. I have a background in interiors, but I also see content as more than words, videos, or social media posts. Content is centered on the customer’s experience and viewed in that light interior design is content.
I want to leave you with a question: if you’re a dispensary owner, are you offering customers an exceptional in-store experience that includes thoughtful interior design?
And, if you’re a new cannabis business owner in the first stages of brand development, have you contracted an interior design firm to work with your marketing team or agency.