TruMed Dispensary: A glimpse at the future of dispensary design

October 7, 2013

If you want to see the best in dispensary design, Arizona’s infant market is becoming the place to look.  Since the first Arizona dispensaries opened their doors just a few months back, well-planned and beautifully executed visions of community-friendly, law-compliant pot shops have popped up over the CHAA-divided map of Arizona.  Harvest of Tempe, Monarch, PARC, and Bloom have given those of us who live for design-- and have lived through the unstable climates that exist is less regulated and organized MMJ markets-- a reason to keep on keeping on.  But if you want to see my vote for Best New Dispensary for Interior Design, look no further than TruMed Dispensary.

Located in a former tire shop off of McDowell and 40th Street, their location is easy to find and offers plenty of parking in their private lot.  Everything about the exterior of the building has been given a healthy dose of attention and care.  Follow that impression up with your first look at the inside as you step through the front door, and you will see how high the bar has now been set.

It’s as though TruMed founders Mike Anton and John Pilkington had been dreaming up the perfect medical marijuana dispensary their whole lives, leaving no detail untouched and making a clear brand statement inside and out.  Upon learning that most of the design had been created by Mike and John themselves, I silently thought about extending them a job offer for The High Road Design Studio.  But it was clear these two men have found their calling and are on the path to doing some great things for the dispensary community.  So I was grateful for the chance to just be able to pick their brains and learn more about how these dispensary owner have made interior design work for them.

Starting with the building, this former tire shop offered the space needed for a large showroom.  The long, narrow transom windows sit in the former garage bays, letting in lots of natural Arizona sunshine and making the space feel large, modern, and welcoming.  The floors have been given new life with beautiful, durable tile that is made to look like Zebrawood.  The apparent grain of the wood makes the space look less sparse and creates movement in the design.  With so many square feet to cover, choosing a flooring with less contrast would have made the space look boring and empty.  The generous size of the showroom also gave them the ability to add a great lounge area off to the side of the area.  Two beautiful white leather and chrome armchairs rest on a silver shag rug, completely out of the way of patient traffic.  Speaking from experience, this area is both functional and pleasing to the eyes.

Their imaginations omitted the typical glass display case from the showroom design.  Instead, one long, continuous counter was built, wrapping around two sides of the space, giving you the feeling like you are walking into a hip new hotel and not a pot shop.  The ceiling lowers above the counter, and mirrors its path around the room.  LED cove lighting was added to the hanging soffit, elevating the design even further.  To help guide patients in the right direction, plexi-glass signs indicating “Patient Education” and “Cashier” hang down from the soffit.  Wayfinding elements such as these, although possible unnecessary for returning patients, are design details that help new patients feel safe and comfortable in unfamiliar places, help maintain organization and flow during busy times, and add to an overall positive experience of a dispensary.

Forgoing the glass display cases allowed for creative materials and techniques to be used in displaying the medicines.  A feature wall of wood and chrome is a beautiful backdrop to the large glass display jars, which are places on live edge wood shelves.  The shelves bring in a sense of nature to the modern space.  Strain menus, test results, and information is displayed on the TVs above for patients to read.

Final touches for the design are still to come.  Mike shared with me his plans for more modern artwork to be displayed both in the showroom and in the lobby, amongst other things.  If his artwork procurement instincts are as dead on as the rest of his eye for design, we could be looking at a satellite gallery for MOCA in this former tire shop.  Mike, if you find the art selection doesn’t fit on the plate of the owner of a newly opened, hot little dispensary, you have my card.

TruMed dispensary is the example of what well-executed interior design can do for your patient experience, professional image, and brand.  If you are inspired to take your dispensary to the next level, please contact The High Road Design Studio.