Shopping center owners left with empty storefronts after the pandemic-induced retail exodus are finding unlikely customers to fill the gaping holes in their malls: pot dispensaries.
“It’s not 22-year-olds buying a blunt and sitting stoned on the curb,” said Bill Schrader, owner of the Alamo, Texas-based retail real estate company Austin Group. “When you go into dispensaries you’ll be shocked. The store is a cross between an Apple store and a Nordstrom.”
Now, where an empty Sprint store once stood at the Union Landing shopping center in Union City, California, frosted glass windows conceal a sophisticated marble-tiled airy shop, the city’s first cannabis shopping center store, run by the Salinas, California-based chain retailer Grupo Flor.
Customers are greeted by a concierge to answer questions, sign in and place an order through an iPad. The orders are assembled out of sight and packaged in a bag that looks like it came from Tiffany’s. The store itself resembles a high-end department store with glass counters, high ceilings and a security guard.
“This is not a dispensary, in my opinion,” said Schrader, who leased out the space. “It is retail.”
Cities and towns responsible for cannabis licenses typically confine marijuana stores, or dispensaries, to low-traffic industrial areas far