As the 15th Ave E pot drama rolls on, a second pot shop in the heart of the Central District has quietly opened without protest or video arcades.
Since August 14th, Ponder has been open sporadically inside a revamped retail space at 24th and Union. Owner John Branch tells CHS he wanted to get the store well stocked before hosting a grand opening, ideally sometime in the next month.
With many shops selling products from the same growers and manufacturers, Branch said he’ll make Ponder stand out through tried-and-true small businesses practices.
“It comes down to good old fashioned retailing,” he said. “Do I like those guys in there, do they carry what I like?”
Ponder will be open for part of the day Friday and most of the day Saturday, Branch said. Look out for more regular hours after Labor Day.
As of this week Ponder holds the bottom sales spot among I-502 retailers in King County with $20 in August sales. Just up Union, Uncle Ike’s reported $1.3 million. The shop, which opened one year ago this month, is the top store in the county by sales and was second in the state overall in August behind only Vancouver’s Main Street Marijuana, according to 502data.com. Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser.
In King County, $3.6 million in pot tax was collected in August (Source: 502data.com)
Ponder makes 19 retail marijuana shops operating in the city and it is the 34th in the county.
Ponder’s opening has been more than a year in the making. Branch could only move as fast as the permitting process would allow, though he said the state Liquor and Cannabis Board has been helpful and encouraging.
Branch also said he had to make some significant renovations after purchasing the building in October. The space was previously home to a mosque. A year ago, Branch was planning to open his business (then called Mello Times) inside a house on 24th Ave. He eventually moved his target location around the corner and switched the name to Ponder.
“I wanted to find something unique,” he said. “I wanted something that reflects what its like to take cannabis.”
Finding a unique vibe shouldn’t be an problem for Ponder with Uncle Ike’s as the only other nearby competitor. Branch said he wants to create a more laid back atmosphere with live music and a lounge area for customers to peruse the menu.
Ponder’s opening and Uncle Ike’s ongoing strong sales all on a few blocks near 23rd and Union is a version of the “Little Amsterdam” prophecy some predicted as I-502 retail rules and zoning took shape.
As Ponder grows, Branch says he’ll be allowing his bud tenders and store managers to represent the face of the shop. Branch is a patent attorney with the firm Lowe Graham Jones.
Adding a medical marijuana component to Ponder is also something Branch wants to pursue. In April, Gov. Jay Inslee enacted sweeping reforms to the state’s medical marijuana industry, potentially allowing for I-502 shops to sell medical marijuana with lower tax to registered patients.
For more information, visit Ponder on Facebook.