Culture and Cult Stature: Sherbinskis Is a New Breed of Dispensary

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In the brand's signature orange, Sherbinskis is a standout on Los Angeles's Fairfax Ave. (Photo: Mike Rosati)

Growing up, Mario Guzman planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a police officer. Instead, the man known to cannabis cognoscenti as Mr. Sherbinski became a master cultivator known for his ability to identify superior genetics and cross them to create something special.

Several of Guzman’s strains—notably the Gelatos, Pink Panties, and Sunset Sherbet—have made the leap from cult favorites to cannasseur darlings. Rappers Tyler, the Creator; Future; Post Malone; and Young Dolph praise Guzman’s creations in their lyrics and personally. Young Dolph is so enamored of Gelato he named an album after the plant.

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Becoming a sort of patron saint of rap is a bit surreal, Guzman said, but he’s honored to be part of the tribe. “I’m a huge lover and fan of music and have been my whole life, from listening to Run DMC all the way up to current hip-hop,” he said. “What I love about it is that I did not have to pay for [the endorsements] or give away product. It happened organically, and I feel like I found my place.”

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Photo: Mike Rosati

Now, Guzman has leveraged his fans and his storied strains to create something entirely new, at least for him: a dispensary on Los Angeles’s Fairfax Avenue, the epicenter of streetwear and skater culture. Called—what else?—Sherbinskis, the sherbet-colored shop is right down the street from youth counterculture mecca Supreme.

Sherbinskis is one of a new breed of dispensary, where form and function coexist and the whole rests comfortably within the surrounding community. According to Guzman, becoming an integral part of the local tribe was among his top priorities. “Sherbinkskis is not only about selling cannabis but also about speaking to things that are important to the culture of that street, like the skate culture,” he said. “We tried to build Fairfax to be a destination.”

Getting the design right required some juggling. What eventually developed significantly departed from what Guzman visualized. “My original concept was a modern-day bodega,” he said. Interior design firm WHY, which lists the Art Institute of Chicago among its clients, steered him in a direction he now admits serves his vision and the energetic yet down-to-earth vibe he set out to create.

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Photo: Mike Rosati

Like Guzman himself, Sherbinkskis on Fairfax is intriguing, inviting, and engaging. The shop’s showroom is visible from the street, though slightly filtered by glass subtly tinted Sherbinskis’ unmistakable orange. The color on the rest of the store is not so subtle, ensuring the building both stands out from and fits into its surroundings. “The orange tint catches the eye of the customer,” said Guzman, in what may be remembered as the understatement of the decade. “I think the glass helps because customers can look right inside and see something they may want to buy.”

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Photo: Mike Rosati

In fact, the store’s design does everything it can to encourage passersby to enter. “When a customer walks by the glass, they can see apparel hanging,” Guzman said. “We have hoodies, shirts, and a lot of other gear.” Even from the sidewalk, the branded apparel upsells itself, freeing staff to focus on customer experience. Like Guzman, team members are plugged into the local scene, and at least one of them is larger than life: Big Country, a giant of a man in charge of security. Intimidating though he may be, Guzman said Big Country is the dispensary’s first line of defense and first positive customer interaction. His people skills, Guzman said, are exemplary.

Sherbinskis also employs some high-tech security measures. “We use biometrics to know exactly who is entering and leaving,” Guzman said.

From the outside, the shop seems much larger than it is, but what Sherbinskis lacks in floorspace it makes up for in clever design. A beautiful glass ceiling not only compensates for a ceiling much lower than Guzman would have liked, but also adds light and lends the impression of space. A modular merchandising method—six-foot by nine-foot sections, each displaying a featured brand—and staff members who carefully squire customers around the store keep things from feeling crowded.

The building also is versatile. Befitting the popularity of his products and his high-profile friends, Guzman wanted Sherbinskis’ showroom to accommodate special events like the star-studded grand opening. Guests at that party included former Denver Nuggets star Al Harrington and 2020 Grammy nominee Ty Dolla $ign. Most of the product shelves are against the walls, but even the displays in the middle of the floor easily can be moved to fit a crowd.

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