While the old retail adage “as the temperatures rise, retail sales cool” may not be as grim for cannabis retail as mainstream brick-and-mortar shops, summer still can be challenging. BDS Analytics has studied sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state for the past several years, and the firm’s data reflects a sobering truth: Sales tend to peak in March, then dip during the summer, and rebound in late August and early September. Summer sales remain somewhat brisk in tourist-heavy states like Colorado due to hordes out-of-towners, but the long days, weddings, graduations, holidays, and heat all add up to a cooling environment in other places. There are ways to keep sales strong during the dog days of summer. Here are some ideas to reel buyers back into your shop.
Take the experience outside
99 High Tide in Malibu, California, catches eyes during the summer by sponsoring a once-a-month beach clean-up day. In the morning, the staff sets up brand display tables and food trucks in a parking lot in front of the shop on Pacific Coast Highway. From there, customers, brand managers, and employees head to the beach for a beach sweep. “This is a great way to help the community and engage with customers and vendors in a low-key and fun way,” said owner Yvonne DeLaRosa Green.
Partner with a local company
Las Vegas’s Nuwu has one-upped the competition by partnering with the professional soccer team Las Vegas Lights FC, whose stadium is only two blocks from the dispensary. The sponsorship includes ads at the stadium as well as hosting players during special events at the store. “It’s a match made in heaven,” said Nuwu General Manager Jen McClaning. “You can come before or after the game.” Smokin Gun Apothecary in Glendale, Colorado, didn’t have to look far for a partner last summer: A gentlemen’s cabaret is just across the street. Marketing Manager Nick Moscia said, “Punch a button and you’ll get a ticket for what you want, which you then place in a Mason jar that can later be redeemed for a free, ice-cold beer at Shotgun Willie’s strip club.”
Offer perks with purchase
This is particularly effective on really hot days, holidays, summer solstices, and full moons, according to Jeff Harris, co-founder and chief executive officer for springbig, a dispensary marketing engine. “Sports events are another way to incentivize your customers,” he said. Evergreen Market in Renton, Washington, goes a step farther by offering elite members exclusive pricing on select products, access to invitation-only events, and opportunities to participate in promotions. “Evergreen Elite members save 20 percent after ten visits, and it’s free to join,” noted co-founder Jeff Anderson.
Go where the customers are
Most cities host summer festivals, markets, or events where local retailers can set up booths. For instance, Cannabliss Retreats does multi-day cannabis events, workshops, and seminars from the mountains to the deserts of California. “We worked with Malibu’s 99 High Tide for our 4/20 event,” said Cannabliss Retreats founder Sari Gabbay. During the event, attendees ordered from 99’s menu, and a van picked up the goodies at the shop and delivered them to retreat attendees.
Deals on summer-friendly items
Smokin Gun Apothecary offers deals on items that are summer-related, like cold drinks, swag, and travel-friendly vape cartridges. Marketing Manager Moscia said, “We do a buy one Keef Cola and get another one for ten cents. We also offer a free battery if you purchase The Clear.” Nuwu also attracts customers through myriad deals, raffles, and contests. According to McClaning, late this summer the shop will give a five-foot bong to someone who spent more than $100. “We’ll also be doing 40 percent off of Hive one-gram concentrates and 30 percent off all oral sprays by Hope.”
Host a function
The opportunities are limitless for creative midsummer festivities. Host classes about cultivating or cooking, or throw a Fourth of July pizza party like MNR in Woodland Hills, California, does. Vendor days also are a cost-effective way to introduce new products to customers. The+Source in Las Vegas draws big audiences when Dr. Troutt, the in-house physician and a respected practitioner, holds two-hour patient education classes. The+Source’s chief executive officer, Andrew Jolley, said Troutt’s appeal is twofold. “He’s a resource for the staff and for the community—and he’s on call throughout the week for those burning, need-to-know questions.”