Marijuana Gear for Discerning New Yorkers Is Flying off the Shelves
(Bloomberg) -- Marijuana’s push into the mainstream now includes a store inside Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, where a holiday shopper seeking a gift for that cannabis connoisseur in their life can spend $6,000 on a glass pot pipe in the shape of a skateboard.
Higher Standards, a Miami-based company that makes marijuana accessories, launched its first retail location a year ago inside the high-end mall, which draws thousands of local foodies and tourists heading west to the High Line.
In addition to expensive bongs and vaporizers, there’s a selection of rolling papers, glass containers for matches and even a $350 marijuana infuser for the home chef looking to make edibles that are a bit more precise than dorm-room pot brownies. This is weed culture in 2018: upscale and out in the open—even in New York, where pot is still illegal.
“There’s still a wink and nod in New York,” said Sasha Kadey, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Higher Standards. “There’s advantages in a business like ours, which doesn’t touch the plant.”
Kadey was referring to a dividing line in the cannabis industry between companies that “touch the plant,” or deal with marijuana directly, and those that don’t. The Higher Standards store in Chelsea Market set a single-day sales record on Black Friday, and then topped it on Dec. 8, the retailer said.
The store, which offers gift wrapping, of course, will be profitable this year, according to Kadey. The company plans to open as many as five additional locations next year, including one in Atlanta that’s expected to be ready just in time for Super Bowl Sunday.
Back in New York, with signs that Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, wants to legalize pot for adult recreational use, Higher Standards could be well-positioned to capitalize. MedMen, a U.S. cannabis company that has a medical-use dispensary on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, is reportedly interested in opening a new store a few steps from Chelsea Market.
These days, cannabis culture is becoming part of everyday life. Pot is now legal for adult use across Canada and in 10 U.S. states, with easing regulations driving an investment boom that’s seen the value of publicly traded marijuana companies surge. Still, federal laws barring marijuana possession have complicated matters.
Marijuana pipes and bongs have long been available across New York in bodegas and smoke shops, often with a requisite winking admonishment that the products are only for tobacco. Higher Standards, meanwhile, has sought to “elevate” the marijuana accessories shopping experience.
The retailer wanted to be in New York because the city is on the cutting edge of retail trends, Kadey said, adding that the company was also taking advantage of the surging curiosity around cannabis. In New York, everyone is hearing about weed and legalization, and the store has become a place to get a look at how the industry is evolving, he said.
“People want something to look at,” Kadey said. “It’s good to have an advanced presence here at the legalization trends continues. It’s not such a noisy, competitive landscape at this point.”
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