Santa Barbara welcomed its second recreational cannabis dispensary last week and the folks at Coastal hope to make a long-standing impact in the community, while also providing top-shelf, premium products for its customers.
After checking into the retail space at 1019 Chapala St., customers enter the showroom to find a number of glass cases featuring a wide variety of cannabis products. On display are 40 different strains of marijuana, with each case equipped with a tab to pull back that allows the customer to smell the product and a magnifying glass that gives the prospective buyer the opportunity to get a closer look at the flower.
“You can really get an idea of what you like,” said General Manager Ryan Bishara. “You get a lot more one-on-one exposure to the product that you’re buying instead of buying it in a sealed box. We buy based upon sight and smell – at least that’s how I buy weed – so we were trying to give people the ability to both see and smell all the products while also keeping them safe and secure.”
Two display cases toward the rear of the store were high-end pastry display cases that were ordered from Italy and repurposed for cannabis concentrates and edibles. The 6,000-square-foot store – formerly a ballet studio and staffing agency – allowed Mr. Bishara to get creative with the layout and provides ample space for customers to shop at their own pace.
Not a fan of dealing with budtenders? No problem.
As you enter the showroom, two large, touch-screen interfaces allow the customer to view the store’s inventory, learn more about certain products or even place their order without having to interact with staff. The store also offers a pick-up option for online orders.
“If you are the guy who is getting a pack of joints on the way home, like picking up a six-pack of beer and you don’t want to deal with all of this… you literally roll up, come and pay real quick and go,” he said. “It’s super quick.”
While offering a wide variety of cannabis products, perhaps the most unique aspect of Coastal is the company’s desire to give back locally.
As part of employment, all team members participate in the “Coastal Cares” program. Each quarter, staff participates in eight hours of community service projects and will be compensated as though they worked a normal day.
In addition, Coastal will support the teams’ efforts through monetary donations and donate 2 percent of net profits back into the community. Coastal has partnered with People Assisting the Homeless, also known as PATH, as well as Unity Shoppe. Longtime resident and music star Kenny Loggins has been tapped as the company’s community engagement ambassador.
“I think we’re trying to break down the traditional stigma that cannabis has and showing that we can be good community partners and we’re interested in giving back,” Mr. Bishara said.
“Instead of throwing money around … we want to build a real relationship with the area over time,” said Devon Wardlow, director of public affairs. “We decided to choose two that are really doing well for the community and focus on efforts there.”
Coastal was selected by the city via a merit-based system, which Ms. Wardlow hopes will become the new standard for other areas.
The newly opened shop is the eighth retail store that Mr. Bishara has been a part of. He is one of several team members with previous experience in the cannabis industry. The team has a combined 50 years of cannabis retail and operating experience, something that is nearly unheard of in the industry, Mr. Bishara said.
“Our goal is to continue being a market leader in Central Coastal California,” he said. “We plan to open up an additional eight to 10 retail locations over the next two or three years.”
Coastal’s COO Malante Hayworth and CEO Julian Michalowski both got their starts in Santa Barbara through real estate and several other team members have ties to the South Coast.
Up next will be a retail dispensary in Lompoc and a delivery service to San Luis Obispo County – both of which may begin by the end of the year. Coastal will also soon be opening a manufacturing center in Santa Barbara.
For now, the team at Coastal hopes to promote a happy, healthy active lifestyle – matching much of what they see in Santa Barbara.
“In every store that we’re opening, one of the things that we’ll be focusing on is how can we uplift the activity of that community,” Ms. Wardlow said. “Hopefully in the next five years you’ll see Coastal and think happy, healthy lifestyle.”
As is the case with most retailers in Santa Barbara, you never know who may walk through the front door.
“One thing I love about having a store that is accessible to the public is the wide range of people we attract,” Mr. Bishara said. “We have people from all age ranges. It is truly everybody.
“It’s nice to have those conversations openly with people and provide them safe access to this type of stuff,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to show them and to educate them on how to do things right.”