A temporary retail space inside the Pottery dispensary in L.A.’s Mid-City makes shopping for smoking accouterments — water pipes, dabbing rigs, trays and the like — feel a whole lot more like you’re browsing a Robertson Boulevard boutique and a whole lot less less like you’re dashing furtively into a mini-mall smoke shop.
Higher Standards, an elevated take on the traditional head shop that opened a Chelsea Market flagship in New York late last year, marks its first foray into the SoCal bricks-and-mortar market with the pop-up partnership.
Its presence inside the brightly lit 2,800-square-foot dispensary consists of several long, blond wood and white, powder-coated-aluminum tables, each stacked with an assortment of high-end marijuana-related merchandise, including vaporizers by Pax and Storz & Bickel, Higher Standards’ own line of sturdy, U.S.-made glass water pipes and pipe-cleaning supplies presented in minimalist black and white packaging.
The pop-up is scheduled to run through Aug. 31.
Also in the mix are home goods such as Malin+Goetz’s cannabis candles, funky Jonathan Adler stoneware jars labeled “ganja,” black and white Higher Standards ball caps and copies of the book “How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High” by David Bienenstock.
Since the Higher Standards retail concept is backed by Greenlane, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based distributor of premium smoking accessories, the on-site offerings include of-the-moment novelties like Otto, Banana Bros.’ just-launched portable joint-rolling machine the size of a peppermill for which it is the exclusive distributor ($128), and the Peak by Puffco, a conical, battery-powered concentrate-smoking rig so sleek and futuristic it could double as a “Star Trek” prop ($379).
“It’s almost impossible to keep in stock,” says Greenlane’s chief marketing officer, Sasha Kadey.
Unlike the THC-containing products that are displayed in closed glass cases and counters framing the perimeter of dispensary (state law requires cannabis be displayed out of reach of customers), the smoking gear and home goods are free for customers to examine and fiddle with. Kadey says that’s an important part of the shopping experience.
“I believe in the ‘pet the puppy’ principle,” he says. “You’ve got to let people pick things up and feel them and touch them. Since you can’t do that with the cannabis products, most [dispensaries] that have dabbled in the cross-selling of merchandise have generally glassed-in their accessories.
The idea for the Higher Standards X the Pottery pop-up was hatched by Kadey and one of the Pottery’s managing partners, Nick Danias, old chums from Santa Monica High School who reconnected at a High Times Top 100 event and brought the collaborative effort to life in just six weeks. But the idea of helping dispensaries grow merchandise sales (as opposed to cannabis sales), particularly at the luxury end of the spectrum, is one Kadey says he’s been focused on for awhile.
“I was in the cosmetics business for five years, and we dealt primarily with high-end salons,” Kadey says. “Salons sell a lot of hair care products [in addition to cutting hair], so why should this be any different? If they’re coming here, why should they go somewhere else to buy the products they need to consume the products they’re buying here?”
He noted that the cannabis business and fashion and beauty industry have something else in common, too: Both are extremely fad-driven.
For Danias, the pop-up provides an opportunity to drive traffic into his barely 12-week-old dispensary and cater to what he calls the “Palisades mom” target demographic. “As a retail space, we want this place to feel very welcoming,” he says. “People are tired of being buzzed in through [a series of security doors]. We want to feel open and welcoming, and I think the merchandising [appeals to the] female perspective.”
Kadey sees it as a valuable case study.
“For me, it’s a little bit of proof-of-concept for what a really, truly integrated and curated retail accessory business [would look like] right alongside these earth-grown goods,” he says. “One of my favorite business concepts is ‘Shoot bullets before cannonballs’ so for the next 90 days we’re shooting bullets, then we’ll see if it’s a target to shoot cannonballs [at].”
Higher Standards X the Pottery
Where: 5042 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles. Entry is restricted to those 21 and older.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 31.