Mike Babins looks tired. But in that tiredness there is an unmistakable look of satisfaction.
Mike and his wife, Maria Petrucci, are the proud parents of Vancouver’s first legal cannabis RETAILER. I slipped several times and called it a “dispensary” and Mike politely corrected me. I started to feel bad for the multiple corrections until Maria got out the sound “Disp…” before correcting herself.
Old habits die hard. But it is because of some of those old habits that Evergreen is Vancouver’s first legal cannabis RETAILER.
Mike was kind enough to allow me 10 minutes in a very busy day [and with no notice to him that I was dropping by…despite me leaning on a number of well connected locals for intro… and no clue who TheCannalysts are] just to cover some of the surface of Evergreen’s story.
Evergreen had operated for three years under Vancouver’s previous framework. They never carried edibles, and thus the transition to today’s limited formats was not as abrupt for them and their customers as it will be for many dispensaries making the leap into the new world.
They also only carried eight strains and, as Mike told me, probably had one of the lower margins in the industry because they also lab tested all the product.
It was interesting to hear many “labs” were knocking on Evergreen’s door to test product. And offering to give him the results that he wanted versus testing the product. When these “labs” heard that Evergreen would only test through Health Canada accredited labs the call would end quickly.
He also paid all his taxes.
He also didn’t shut down October 16, but stayed open selling only rolling papers until the opening in the first week of January 2019. He wanted to keep his staff. That move hit Evergreen’s bank account. Carrying staff for two and half months with very limited revenue provides a nice juxtaposition to NB laying of staff.
All of the above “habits” likely sped his application through the new maze of provincial regs.
His staff were friendly but, with the constant stream of customers, I didn’t want to take too much of their time. They had tethered display jars with magnification of 10-12 strains. I didn’t look through all the strains as the counter was generally full of customers. In a display case they had Symbl high CBD oil, Tweed and DNA gel caps, and Solei Gather Sublingual spray [I bought the latter … and it’s quicker reacting than oil with a nice lift]. They had some PAX vaporizers, a volcano, rolling papers and single joint rolling machines in the display case.
Mike and Maria were the guinea pigs on this new cannabis retail landscape. With Provincial rules [frost out the entire window] at odds with Vancouver rules [don’t frost out the windows]. Provincial rules trump Vancouver rules, as evident by the application of some electrical tape to cover the tiniest sliver of unfrosted glass where the window met the frame. Mike would prefer unfrosted as it improve the in store experience, and they would like to be able to see if there are loiters with bad intentions outside.
Mike and Maria have ordered twice from the BC central warehouse and they indicate that the experience has been good with satisfactory selection. BC reps are also promising more selection and supply in coming months.
I tried to convince Mike to come on the Cannabis Podcast Mash Up this weekend, as his story would be an interesting one to hear in full and in his own words, but he has family in town and working. He isn’t even attending Lift… too much to do.
A gentleman in a SUNGROWN hat came in to talk actual business with Mike, so I let him go about his day. When I asked the gentleman if he was with Tantalus he said, “no”. But Mike chimed in, “we will be carrying Tantalus very soon”.
As I was walking out he thanked me for being part of the industry and the change that is a foot. Very gentlemanly.
Mike…TheCannalysts wish you and Maria well in your endeavor… and get some sleep. And when you have time, lets have another discussion.
Evergreen Cannabis is located at 2868 W 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC