Redmond’s first marijuana retail shop, Always Greener Downtown, lit up its open sign on Feb. 2 at 15937 Redmond Way.
Store manager Jenny Carbon said that it’s exciting to be a pioneer in the pot-shop realm in Redmond. She and partner Shauna Mindt — who are both Redmond residents — are learning about cannabis along the way and informing the public about it as well.
“That’s a great responsibility and we take it really seriously,” Carbon said.
Added Mindt: “We’re really about responsible consumption. We’re parents, so we’re really aware of the issues that parents go through around consumption and keeping the teens away from the product.”
Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. There will be a grand-opening event from noon to 1 p.m. March 3.
The duo’s parent company is titled The Grass is Always Greener and its tagline is “Always Safe, Always Responsible, Always Kind.” This is the firm’s first retail shop and it’s housed in a nearly 3,000-square-foot building that is flanked by the Spa Inn on one side and Wendy’s on the other. Carbon and Mindt said that all businesses in the vicinity of their shop have been welcoming.
Flower, concentrate and edible products for medical patients and recreational consumers will be available in one part of the building, and Always Greener Mercantile will fill an adjacent spot and feature paraphernalia like pipes and branded merchandise. They’re certified to serve the medical community, Mindt said, and look forward to that market growing in the near future. They presently sell cannabis from 15 vendors and aim to support Eastside grow operations.
“Things are going fantastic. We’ve been received by the community really well,” said Carbon, who added that customers are pleased they can walk downtown to purchase items rather than traveling to Kirkland or Bellevue.
One bus rider recently spotted the Always Greener Downtown sign while they were headed to a different store, jumped off the vehicle at a nearby stop and strolled into the shop, Carbon said with a smile.
Carbon said that people have voiced all positive feedback since they opened. Washington Initiative 502 passed by approximately 56-44 percent on the November 2012 general ballot. Carbon added that, according to voting documents, 62 percent of Redmond residents voted in favor of the initiative.
An earlier Reporter story noted that nearly three and half years after Washingtonians voted to legalize recreational marijuana, Redmond City Council voted unanimously, 6-0, to allow retail cannabis stores in town at its June 7, 2016 business meeting. Mayor John Marchione and council member Hank Myers were absent and excused from the meeting.
“For me, personally, the most satisfying thing has been when the customers walk in the door, and they just say, ‘Finally, there’s something here in Redmond.’ That means we’re serving our community and that’s what we always set out to do,” added Carbon, who noted that she’s thrilled that council approved shops and that 62 percent of residents voted for legalization.
Redmond City Council member Hank Margeson said he is glad that a cannabis retail store is finally opening in the city.
“The council worked hard to adopt an ordinance that respected the wishes of the majority of our city in supporting I-502, while maintaining the health and safety of our community. I am looking forward to celebrating this accomplishment at the official ribbon cutting on March the 3rd,” he said.
Mindt owns the store and Carbon will own another Redmond location, which they plan to open in the spring, Carbon said. They’re still working on the details for the second shop, which will be called Always Greener Uptown.
Council’s vote came a little more than two years after Redmond received its first two retail marijuana stores through the state lottery. According to the city ordinance, the state limit is four stores for Redmond (the city was originally awarded two stores in the state lottery and received two additional stores last year).
The wait involved the city defining proposed regulations and dealing with zoning restrictions for shops, which residents voiced their pro and con opinions on — and also about shops in general — at a well-attended council hearing, a King County town hall meeting at Evergreen Middle School near Redmond and at a demonstration in front of city hall.
The Redmond ordinance states there will be at least a 1,000-foot buffer between retail cannabis stores and playgrounds and schools. From other state-defined sensitive uses including parks, libraries, recreation centers, child care centers, transit centers and arcades, there will be at least a 100-foot buffer. There will be no separation requirement between stores.
Mindt said she’s excited to have neighborhood residents and city employees pleased with the shop’s opening.
The duo is finally glad to be an active part in the community. When Carbon was awarded the No. 1 spot in Redmond after winning the lottery to open stores, the duo’s business path was revealed, although it’s been a rocky one in spots.
“There was always doubts, there was never any guarantee I feel like,” Mindt said. “For us, we were so passionate about this that we’re really in it for the long haul. There was no question that we were gonna stick it out through the end. And in the end, it turned out to be a great relationship that we’ve ended up with, with our city. It was good to go through the process in that sense for that relationship.”
Carbon said she delved into the lottery process because she wondered where the local shops were post-legalization and couldn’t find any. She thought a store would fit into the Redmond community and feels the city is a potentially big market for retail cannabis.
While nodding her head at Mindt, Carbon said she hopes to say that every day is their biggest day of making sales and educating the community.
Myers said that Carbon and Mindt have worked diligently within the system to open their store.
“It has taken patience, good humor and a lot of creativity for them to get this far. Whether you agree with the product or not, this is the same entrepreneurship and persistence so identifiable in Redmond. And once again, the public gets to decide,” he said.
• Mindt and Carbon hope that Always Greener Mercantile — which they plan to unveil by March 3 — will feature hemp products and clothing, an art gallery, musicians and be a spot for people to be educated, relax and enjoy themselves.
• Expanding on its Always Greener philosophy, they have used recycled glass in their granite cabinet, recycled railroad ties for their drawers and brought in eco-friendly products as well.
“We felt that if we were going to be creating a physical space, we wanted to have the smallest carbon imprint that we could on the environment in Redmond, because we know that matters to people as well,” Carbon said.