Legal recreational marijuana sales launched in California on New Year's Day, with some cities, like Los Angeles, asking retailers to wait to open their doors till Tuesday, according to news reports.
The state issued "dozens of permits" to retailers, in a market that could reach $7 billion statewide annually by 2020, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The expanding legalization of cannabis is bringing some traditional retailers to a new market. Colorado Harvest Company, a cannabis business with three dispensaries, for example, recently hired former Eddie Bauer executive Laurie Bosch as director of retail sales.
On New Year's Day, from wine country in the North Bay to Southern California, weed enthusiasts came out of the shadows or chucked their medical cards to buy cannabis at retail.
As the legal cannabis market grows, retail and store management expertise is becoming increasingly important. State taxes and fees are ballooning the cost to consumers by some 40%, and that's already facing some resistance, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
But there are also retail fundamentals like customer service and merchandising that differ from what has been proffered on the street or even through medically-licensed dispensaries. That's leading companies like Colorado Harvest Company to turn to traditional retailers to seek talent: "We handle upwards of 200,000 sales annually, so we're at the point [where] we need an executive of Laurie's caliber to continue this momentum," Tim Cullen, CEO of Colorado Harvest Company, said in a statement. "Dispensaries like ours must invest in executives who can drive marketing and operations to remain competitive. Hiring Ms. Bosch is not just a step, but a major stride forward, in our plans for growth."
Bosch has 25 years of experience in retail management, much of it in specialty apparel and home goods — but all of it has been focused on stores. As the industry develops, we could see more cannabis retailers turning to experienced executives to help the fledgling market grow.