Chrissy Hadar, co-founder, president of retail, and chief branding officer for Oregrown, had a simple vision for her Portland cannabis shop: She wanted it to be a representation of the brand—where it is today and where it’s headed. Hadar, a Portland native, saw the store as reflection of the company’s lifestyle and marketing divisions that teem with artists, developers, ambassadors, and specialized vendors who drive Oregrown’s message to the marketplace. And, of course, the city and state she loves.
“I took a lot of inspiration from pre-Portlandia Portland—before Portland was cool and known for being weird,” said Hadar. “I often reference NikeTown in the late ’90s, early 2000s—how they played with light, shadows, metal, and texture certainly played a role when it came to choosing finishes.”
The shop’s floors were one of three main design points Hadar and her team knew they had to get right for everything else to work. This presented a unique challenge because the existing concrete flooring was uneven and covered with oil stains, making both polished concrete and tile out of the question. In the end the team chose an epoxy finish with a thick, viscous paint to create a clean, monotone vibe. In order to achieve the desired effect—a nod to the red soil and mountainous terrain throughout Oregon—the paint had to be custom mixed for color. This took some time—and cost—but was well worth it. The terra-cotta colored floors are a perfect match to the dispensary’s custom topographic seating areas. The combined effect makes the space seem like the floors are a part of the earth flowing straight into the installed “mound” like lounges.
According to Hadar, the whole concept was to bring the outdoors in. The natural clay toned floors represent the earthen ground found in the high deserts of central Oregon while the custom couches mimic the rolling hills of eastern Oregon. “We wanted to do something different, something that would catch the customers eye and also blend in, and I think we achieved that,” she said.
What immediately captures attention within the shop though, are the unique lounge areas where custom seating allows for creative use of the space for events and group gatherings such as showings of Oregrown’s outdoor films, while freestanding retail displays easily accommodate additional space for larger gatherings. But if the seating was the lure, it’s the floating shelving and cloud-like ceiling that provide retail transcendence.
All the displays are custom made from tubed and perforated metal and glass. The design intent was for them to appear as though they are “floating.” For example, the cash wrap is lit from within but also below, subtlety mimicking a spaceship about to take off. “We managed to make the space feel light, while also grounded,” said Hadar. Even the wall mounted clothing displays appear as though they are suspended from above due to a custom designed, drop-down ceiling. In addition, many of the modular displays are movable, allowing the space to be easily rearranged. According to Hadar, an incredible amount of time and effort went in to not only making the displays look beautiful, but also having them be functional for cannabis retail.
Another big hurdle was how to approach interior lighting. Considering the existing space’s high ceilings, Hadar decided to utilize the height to create the illusion of an Oregonian sky with a large cloud-shaped platform suspended from the natural ceiling to create an open space between the two. The platform was then fitted with recessed LEDs and track lighting. “When I heard about the idea, I was all for it but completely underestimated the impact such a design would make in the store,” she said. “Not only did it solve the problem of providing adequate lighting, but it did so in such an innovative and architecturally expressive way. You truly feel like you have entered another world when walking into our store.”
The dispensary is located in the historic Eiger Building, which once was used to store collectable cars and a photo studio. After taking over, Hadar kept the stucco details on the exterior building as is, but painted the outside black, adding gooseneck lighting and large custom lit signage that is easily visible from all directions when approaching the building. A recessed main entrance with matte black hexagonal tile flooring and steel walls with speakers built in at the top complete the shop’s exterior. “We feel it provides a sense of intrigue as the interior is warm and welcoming and certainly something that will catch your eye,” said Aviv Hadar, Oregrown’s co-founder and chief executive officer.
While mapping the layout of the 1500-square-foot shop, Aviv Hadar made sure to allocate prime real estate to Oregrown merchandise and branded goods. While he won’t reveal what percentage of the store’s sales are merch, he did say the company wouldn’t continue to invest time and money in branded goods if they weren’t a “resounding success.”
Ultimately, the shop was ready to open in time and stayed under budget, though, it was not easy. Chrissy Hadar said the entire renovation was a huge challenge due to the building needing a “seismic upgrade.” She knew when taking on the colossal project that she would need to be prepared for anything. “We brought on Joseph Hughes Construction as our general contractor,” she said. “Not only did they go above and beyond to help us see our vision through, but Joe Hughes also happens to be my stepfather, which didn’t hurt when needing to accomplish projects in a pinch.”
Solid partnerships have been integral to Oregrown’s success. This is front and center with their innovative partnership with PAX Labs, which provides custom PAX “store-in-a-stores” that look like groovy labs out of a Stanley Kubrick movie and create a cool experience for consumers. “Oregrown and PAX have developed an immersive experience featuring several state-of-the-art components, including custom personalized PAX Era engraving and a unique customer education platform centered around interactive smart display technology,” Chrissy Hadar said.
This premium on partnerships ensures Oregrown isn’t just good looking but delivers the goods—on all levels. When it comes to product selection, Aaron Elston, the company’s vice president of retail, said the most important thing is finding brands that are transparent in their cultivation techniques, have consistently high quality products, and provide sales associates with in-depth education and samples. “Education comes in the form of in-store events where we host brand ambassadors as they demonstrate their products to our customers during (non-medicated) tastings,” Elston said. At the Portland store, Elston has free reign to exercise his creativity due to the beautiful space and trendy neighborhood. A musician himself, Elston enjoys hosting open mics, DJs, small bands, and even movies. “The custom seating in the showroom allows us flexibility to have seating for an incredible range of events, bringing a completely different vibe from any other dispensary in the country,” he said.
Since the renovation, Oregrown has seen its sales skyrocket. Its customers come from all walks of life but have one thing in common: they expect a highly curated, top shelf selection of products. “We often get exclusivity from vendors of certain flavors or strains that are only available in small batches and hard to find,” said Chrissy Hadar. “These customers are connoisseurs of cannabis; they know what they want and know they can find it at Oregrown.”
The future looks sunny at Oregrown as more shops are in the planning stages, including one in Eugene and one in Cannon Beach. “Taking our brand to a completely new region allows us the opportunity to evolve this ecosystem and activate the transcendent spirit of our company,” Chrissy Hadar said. “Later this year, we will be launching a new type of ambassador program where we will focus on artists, people in the culinary and craft cocktail world, writers, artisans, and more—burgeoning professionals in their respective fields that excel at what they do and not only love what they do, but find joy in sharing that passion with others.”