For the fourth year in a row, Chimacum Cannabis Co. has won the Leader’s Readers Choice award in its category.
Founder Kody McConnell left a career in government, working for the county, to take a risk and pursue opening a business in a frontier industry. It was 2016 and cannabis retailers were just getting started, as the state worked out kinks in its regulations and the relationship with the federal government, which still considers cannabis sales illegal.
Today, McConnell said, he’s proud to have forged a business that serves its customers, the community and the local economy.
The inside of the shop feels like a cozy mountain cabin with a wood burning stove, wood paneling, and warm lighting.
McConnell said he designed the inside of the store and the way the store operates to be a place he would want to shop, which led naturally to a friendly and knowledgeable staff and welcoming atmosphere.
The shop is located in what was a homesteader milk-house when Chimacum was first settled.
Restoring and refurbishing was a huge undertaking McConnell said, and the entire roof needed to be replaced.
“It would have been cheaper just to knock it all down but that wouldn’t have been the right decision for the community,” he said. “I wanted to preserve the property’s authentic character, that’s why I did it the hard way.”
Wooden cabinets with glass windows on the walls and in the center of the room display the product. The store stocks everything from tinctures, concentrate oil, cannabis flower as well as all matter of paraphernalia like bongs, pipes and rolling papers.
Valentine Lucas, the store’s purchasing manager, said he sees the store as different from other cannabis businesses because of its commitment to craft products.
The store will only stock grower-owned, pesticide free and small batch farms, he said, because of their commitment to quality products and to support an independent non-corporate industry. Lucas and McConnell likened their model to a craft brewery versus a mass market retail store. Craft products, like microbreweries, have seen their share of the market increase over the past several years. While multinational corporations dominate in other industries, craft beer is thriving at a time when Americans are drinking less beer overall.
“People prefer quality, and our customers reward us for it,” McConnell said. “It’s almost like running a fine wine, fine tobacco or fine potpourri shop all at once.”
The shop received national recognition when it was named one of the best dispensaries in America in 2017 by High Times magazine, the oldest running and most well-known cannabis industry magazine.
McConnell said their inclusion came as a welcome surprise and he sees it as a testament to their commitment to their customers. A framed copy of the article hangs in the shop.
Another reason Lucas said he believes their customers continue to vote them number one is because of their commitment to helping people find the best product to suit their needs, including a shop philosophy of therapeutic use versus purely recreational.
“Most people don’t think of it that way but they come in because it makes them feel better,” whether for anxiety, chronic illness or just relaxation, he said.
They have a rule that they “only sell what they smoke” and will not recommend things to customers that haven’t been tried by the employees in the store.
“We want people to be able to trust the info that they get here so they can make the best informed decision about what is right for them and their needs,” Lucas said.
Part of that is helping customers understand the differences in the products, their effects and learn more about cannabis.
“We want people who leave the store to be more empowered consumers,” McConnell said, “because that raises the bar for everyone.”
Looking to the future, McConnell said there are a lot of directions they are wanting to go to expand the business on the three-and-a-half acre Chimacum property, but first they have to wait for the regulatory laws to catch up.