Retailing Goes to Pot

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You\’re not in Kansas anymore.

When you walk in the front door of Planet 13 just off the Las Vegas Strip you are in both a new era for American retailing and a state-of-the art store that rivals anything being done in any consumer product field. Planet 13 is a legal marijuana dispensary, perhaps the largest and glitziest in the country. Open at this location only since this past November and taking advantage of the state of Nevada\’s legalization of pot effective the summer before, the store represents both the cutting edge of society…and the cutting edge of retailing.

At 112,000-square feet in total size – only about a quarter of which is currently being used as retailing space — the store is giant. It features multiple video screens throughout the selling space as well as interactive animated panels on the floor and elsewhere to engage shoppers. It is essentially designed as an Apple store by another name…with a decidedly different product mix.

Here\’s the shopping process at Planet 13: customers walk into a welcome lobby where they must show a driver\’s license for proof of entry which is returned with an entry card similar to a sports or movie theater ticket. They are then directed through a wide decorative corridor to an electronic turnstyle where the ticket is used to open the gate. A greeter welcomes you to the space and gives you the choice of walking around on your own or connecting directly with a counselor who will handle your actual purchasing process.

Walking the Planet

The walk around the store is eye-opening. Most of the displays are in glass cases, showing pods of marijuana leaves, as well as cannabis edibles, lotions and potions and assorted paraphernalia, heavily skewed towards electronic smoking devices. There is also a quick-check-type counter for medical marijuana purchases. Once a shopper has surveyed the goods, a sales agent – usually a millennial-aged, red-shirted eager-to-please male – will answer your more specific questions, explain what\’s legal and what may not be and then take your order. He directs you to a counter space where your order has been assembled and payment is processed. Cash is the preferred method though cards can be used with a workaround and a service fee.

By the Numbers

Does it all work? You bet. According to the company, Planet 13 has averaged 2,465 people a day in the store since the first of January. Of that, an average of 1,712 people a day make a purchase, at an average ticket of $89.33.

Do the math: $152,932 a day in average sales and $1.07 million a week. Projected out, that\’s close to $56 million a year in sales from this location.
And in case you missed it, Planet 13 has a 69 percent conversion rate of turning visitors into purchasers. Take that Apple.

And they are just getting started, say its owners, Planet 13 Holdings, a public company, traded on the Canadian Stock Exchange. What is calls a \”Phase II\” expansion will include a coffee shop and a bistro/pizzeria, construction of which has just started in the structure. Although consumption of legal marijuana is not allowed on property, one has to think that anyplace that serves food and snacks will be quite popular with Planet 13\’s customer base.

Don\’t be surprised if there\’s more to come. \”This is just the beginning,\” said Larry Scheffler, co-CEO of the company. \”We are building a one-of-a-kind tourist destination that will be must-see for both cannabis aficionados and people who don\’t consume the product. \”We are well capitalized and expect to continue to drive results from the SuperStore, while also beginning to leverage our growing reputation into other attractive markets in the U.S.\”

Right now, marijuana for recreational use is legal in 10 U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia. A total of 33 states allow for legal medical marijuana use. It is now also legal in the entire country of Canada. And more American states, including New York, are pushing for legalization. The potential for growth – all of it in physical retail locations rather than online – is enormous.

The next time someone complains that there\’s nothing new in retailing, tell them about Planet 13. It is out of this world.

Warren Shoulberg needed to visit Planet 13 while in Las Vegas for, er, professional reasons.



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