PART I: Customer-friendly crowd control

March 31, 2020

This is the first installment of our three-part blog series on COVID-19 for cannabis retailers. 

Aside from the irony that cannabis has been deemed necessary to society in nearly half of the states but could land you in federal prison in the other half, this rightfully earned recognition of “essential” has already introduced some new challenges and opportunities for dispensary operators and staff. From social distancing, ordering online and express order pick-up to sanitation practices and customer flow modifications, there are many new practices to get comfortable with if you want to keep your customers happy, your staff healthy, and your business afloat. We hope these tips and resources help keep your store running smoothly and your patrons smiling during this unique time in our lives and during this year’s 4/20 events.

In case you haven’t heard, licensed cannabis businesses in 23 states have been allowed to remain open, many even earning the designation of “essential businesses.” This means that your local pot shop hopefully won’t be shutting its doors and laying off its staff anytime soon as the world deals with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and as dispensaries across the country continue gearing up for their annual 4/20 promotions and events--an already hectic time for dispensaries and cannabis brands.

Social distancing has instantly become a 2020 buzzword that we won’t soon forget. To comply with the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing, we should maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people to lessen the chances of spreading COVID-19. They’ve also mandated the Bogarting practice be implemented for all for joint-smoking sessions. 

As designers, we have a few tricks up our sleeves for controlling customer flow and plugging small moments of delight into your shoppers’ journey. Here are a few easy-to-act-on ideas to help you navigate the current health crisis while also preparing you for increased traffic flow during high volume events such as 4/20.

PART I: Customer-friendly crowd control

Maintaining personal space with floor decals

Floor decals are essentially signage that can be adhered to the floor. This is an easy, cost-effective and non-permanent way to support wayfinding and customer queuing— and to add some humor and joy throughout your customer journey. Adding your logo and a clever message in your brand’s unique voice adds a personal touch to your customers’ waiting experience in your lobby and check-out areas or even outside on your sidewalk or in your parking lot. Whether you make use of your brand graphics, signature color palette, or some clever lighthearted quotes, placing temporary floor decals where your lines form will help people stay six feet apart. And if you do it well, it may even prompt them to take out their phone and snap a pic to post online or to show a friend after they leave. It is an inexpensive way to quickly and easily impact your customer experience and leave a lasting impression. 

A custom decal from will run you about $40 each, with their outdoor decals able to last up to 30 days. However, if your local printer is still open for business during COVID-19, reach out to them for assistance. They likely can provide cost-effective floor decal solutions with shorter lead times than online sources.

PART I: Customer-friendly crowd control

Nothing says VIP like stanchions and rope

When you are looking to help people to line up in an orderly fashion, stanchions and rope are a fashionable way to get the job done. The stanchions and rope cue people where to queue and help control crowds and customer flow. However, not all stanchions are created equal, and there is a huge variety on the market. Look for one that physically fits in your space and also complements your store’s design. Perhaps a branded rope is the way to go, like what Native Roots in Colorado chose to do in their stores. 

If you want to go the extra mile to make these crowd-control measures feel perfectly at home in your store, coordinate your stanchions and rope with custom branded floormats to really make your guests feel like you rolled out the VIP carpet for them.

PART I: Customer-friendly crowd control

Embrace that bullet-resistant check-in window

The great part about evolving cannabis legislation and the current state of cannabis retail design is that we are seeing less and less demand for bullet resistant (BR) glass solutions. However, for those dispensaries that have BR windows or areas with plexiglass protection, now is the time to take advantage of it to protect your staff and customers.

If you have a BR check-in window in your lobby, find out if you are allowed to perform transactions in that space. This can provide a great means of efficiently serving your customers while maintaining separation between employees and the public, especially when paired with online order pick-up--a topic we will cover in Part II of this blog series. Packaged orders may still need to be walked out to the customer—if they can’t fit through the pass-thru slot—but this practice will require far less physical contact than a typical transaction in your showroom would require. 

High Road is always here to help our cannabis community, and we are ready to help you through these unique circumstances too. Whether for COVID-19 or for FOUR-20, our team of dope designers and retail gurus can provide you with clever ways to keep your customers happy and your brand top of mind. We are ready and able to provide the retail design support you need during these hectic and ever-changing times. Contact us today to learn more about our graphic design and consultation services to help you implement these helpful practices today and every day.

Coming up in Part II of our three part series, we will be sharing some words of wisdom for implementing online and express order pick-up in your store—an increasingly common feature in today’s dispensaries. We will discuss the best ways to implement Buy Online Pick-up In Store (BOPIS) strategies that don’t require remodeling your shop. More great dispensary design tips can be found on our blog, Dope Design Diaries and on our Instagram page, @highroadstudio_. 

Take care of yourselves and keep taking the High Road!