Nearly 100 marijuana industry professionals are meeting in Renton this week to speed date.
At least that’s how the trade journal Marijuana Venture is describing its Fall Interchange, an event that pairs pot shop owners with marijuana growers and manufacturers for quick, one-on-one meetings to pitch their wares.
“This is a great opportunity for us because we are able to meet with a number of vendors each day,” said Tera Martin, director of business development at Green Theory in Bellevue. “I have 10 people I’m meeting with today. That’s 20 meetings in two days. Usually, we would meet with three people in a week. It’s time-efficient for us to participate in an event like this.”
“It’s a great way to do things because you get a ton of work done,” added Marijuana Venture publisher Greg James, who hosted the area’s first event of this kind in June. “In the marijuana business, it makes sense because things are so damn inefficient already. You can’t mail samples. You have to drive all over the state because the stores are so spread out. The last time we did it, the feedback was, ‘Oh, this is amazing! I had all these meetings that would have taken me months to arrange.’”
If you are imagining a huge and hazy snack-filled smoke-out at the gathering, which is being held at the Renton Pavilion Events Center, think again. The Washington State Liquor Control Board prohibits growers from bringing samples unless the buyer is over 21 years of age and the product is purchased legally at a licensed retail store. Even then, marijuana consumption at the event is not allowed. Instead, most growers bring photographs of their products or colorful packaging with product descriptions.
Besides, most of the attendees are too busy trying to stake their claims on a seriously profitable business and are more interested in cutting deals than lighting up. James noted approximately 350 to 400 retail stores and approximately 1,000 growers in Washington state currently generate approximately $3 million a day in retail sales and approximately $300 million a year in tax revenues. “This is a competitive business and it’s growing fast,” he said.
Organizers rang a bell at 9 a.m. promptly on Wednesday and the speed dating began. Owners of 42 pot shops set up in booths to meet three-dozen growers and manufacturers for one-on-one, 20-minute pitch meetings to discuss everything from oils, waxes, and dabs; to edibles such as marijuana-infused sugar and brownies; to different strains and qualities of flower. When the bell rang again, there was a 10-minute break before the growers and manufacturers moved to the next booth for another round of meetings.
“I’m looking for what our staff can sell confidently,” said Green Theory’s operations manager, Ari Emadi. “We like to pride ourselves that our budtenders aren’t pushing their favorite thing, they are pushing the right thing for that particular customer. My goal today is to see what we can find here that is new and that we can maybe move in our store.”
“Finding at least one grower who intends to get their products medically certified through the department of health – that’s our number one goal here,” added Chris McAboy, founder of The Novel Tree in Bellevue, who was attending the event with budtender Andrew Reynolds.
“For us, it just kind of gives us a good picture of who we want to take into our store, who is a good fit for us, and who will make sense with our customers,” Reynolds said.
The closed-to-the-public event wraps up Thursday.