Why hiring a professional cannabis retail designer is money well spent

October 11, 2017

“How much will it cost me to hire The High Road to design my cannabis retail brand?”

“One miiillllllion dollars!!!!!!”

Just kidding. I mean, it certainly can if you’d like it to. But for 95% of the people reading this blog, you can be assured that “just kidding” is okay go with on this one.

Joking aside, “how much?” is a completely fair question to ask, but a difficult one for us or any design professional to answer on a whim. It is like asking a grower to tell you how much revenue should be expected from their next harvest without them knowing the size of the grow space, the number of plants, the species of plants, the wattage of lights, the grow medium used, the curing and trimming process they plan to utilize, or how good they are at #nugging. There are many variables that go into designing a cannabis dispensary just as there are in growing and producing the product that ends up on the shelves.

There is no doubt about it: creating a strong, relevant retail brand-- and the physical store experience that goes along with it-- comes with a price tag. But, when you hire a professional cannabis retail design team like The High Road, this upfront price will gain you customer-facing physical assets and revenue streams like none other in your enterprise and create lasting value that you can literally put your hands on.

Professional cannabis retail design is an investment, not a cost.

I see the ways my clients are forced to spend money in this industry, just to be compliant and get open. They pay the “cannabis premium” on everything-- higher rent, higher insurance, higher worker’s compensation rates... They fork over money annually to their state’s marijuana programs, just so they can keep their doors open and retain their licenses. 

These costs typically do nothing to help them improve their business. 
They don’t help them sell more products. 
They don’t help them educate their customers. 
They don’t add to the retail experience in any way.

But when you invest in cannabis retail design, you are doing something that will benefit your business-- and your community-- everyday. A high-volume dispensary in a regulated market can easily do $10 million a year or more in sales, so it makes sense that a good retailer will spend a few hundred thousand upfront to build out a space that can attract customers, compete with other dispensaries, and grow with their business over time. 


Cannabis retailers are tasked with educating their customers about the ever changing products in the market, finding meaningful and effective way of displaying these products in-store, and creating a lasting impression that keeps their dispensary top of mind after that customer leaves-- all while staying compliant with local regulations. Working with a professional who understands the impact of these variables on the retail environment is worth their weight in distillate. 

For example, I designed a custom concentrate bar for a client a few years back so they could showcase this popular and increasingly profitable line of products in a professional and eye-catching (aka dollar-catching) manner, and in a space that let them to have in-depth conversations about this often misunderstood product category. They spent over $300/square foot on redesigning this area of their showroom because they understood the value it would bring to the retail experience and the amount of product they would sell out of it.  Their concentrate sales exceeded $1 million that year.  The investment in the new bar paid for itself in less than a month.


When handled properly and in a way that meets your business’ unique needs, design should not be looked at as a cost, but as an investment.  Major retailers don’t spend millions of dollars designing their retail locations and branding because they like to.  They do it because it will make or break their business.  They do it because it adds tremendous value to their brand in the eyes of investors as well as their customers. 

Go on, brush your shoulders off.

Design is a good investment, yes.  But let’s be honest here--- design is also a status symbol. You don’t just want an efficient, functioning dispensary that checks the boxes next to what your city and state requires to be operational.  

You want a design that gives you priceless images of a can’t-be-missed retail experience to unleash to the eyes of the World: 


You want to create something that gives you and your employees a sense of pride that resonates in every customer interaction:


You want to create a space that helps you attract new patrons, creates buzz, and breeds cult-like loyalty to your brand: 

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You want an Instagrammable, hashtag-able, dope space that is the envy of your competition and the icing on the cake of your customer’s experiences:

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Of all of the things you have to invest in to get your business off of the ground-- permits, licenses, consultants, legal costs, insurance, security, high rent, insane taxes-- your retail design is one area where spending money will actually be seen AND appreciated.

In retail design, form always follows function.  If a space isn’t efficient for your employees to work in, if it doesn’t enhance your customers’ shopping experiences, if it doesn’t promote safety and security, then your decor doesn’t mean squat.

The value of good design is experienced when something works so well, you don’t even have to think about it.  The power of good design is felt when you have created a memorable experience that stands out from your competition and makes you feel great every time you step foot into that space.

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What is it worth to you to know your retail space is designed to maximize your revenue, throughput, employee efficiency, and customer comfort-- not just on your opening day, but everyday you are open for the next few years? 

What is it worth to you to have a retail space that will look just as good in two years as it does the day you open because a professional selected fixtures and materials that will stand the test of time? 

What is the value of this tangible, revenue generating, iconic real estate asset when you go to sell your entreprise down the road?

In retail, design cannot be an afterthought.  If you are going to be successful as a retailer, you must plan for design from the beginning.  Retaining the right design team and engaging them in your planning as early as possible will help ensure you allocate the right budget for their services, get the proper services for your needs and goals, and execute a successful retail design project for your business to enjoy for a long time to come.

So, how much will it cost you if you DON’T hire The High Road?

Perhaps that is the true million dollar question.