Ruckus Recreational on E Republican at 15th expanded their tiny grass shop into the joint next door in January but no one on the staff remembers which day exactly. With the square footage of a van, the original low profile boutique could easily be overlooked.
“That space didn’t allow us to expand our product line,” said Ruckus owner Sam Burke, yet sales at Ruckus are only getting higher. The company grossed $261,000 in December 2017 and has grown 13.3% annually since opening two years ago, according to industry tracker Top Shelf Data.
Compared to Uncle Ike’s, the Goliath weed stronghold with a location across the street, one at 23rd and Union, and another in the works on E Olive Way, Ruckus was also an easy target for thieves. After five separate smash and grab break-ins, Burke increased security measures of the newly expanded shop.
The store opens every day at 8 AM to a sleepy stream of regulars who point to what they want with little deliberation.
“It’s just like getting up and going to buy a pack of cigarettes,” says Ruckus product buyer, Bill Eddy.
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The second level of Ruckus is now office space and a stock room, though Burke would like to eventually utilize the upstairs as new opportunities for consumption arise. Public consumption of cannabis is illegal, including edibles and infused coffee but Burke is optimistic.
Mannequins guarding the doors and eclectic ephemera on the spacious sales floor will soon be joined by projected movies on the wall. Burke curates the decor in addition to making office supply runs for his store, which he visits seven days a week.
Postal Plus, the longtime former tenant of the expanded space, has settled into its new location just off 12th while USPS kindly returned the mailbox to the corner of 15th and E Republican, initially swept away in the move.
“I know Ed is much happier, I see him regularly,” says Burke of Postal Plus owner Ed Zhang.
Like the old post office, Ruckus sells peppermint patties, too but Goodship brand edibles will get you high at $10 for four.
Ruckus “defiantly” opened on the block in December 2015.
Though Ruckus sales and growth indicate the shop is not in direct competition with Uncle Ike’s, not all things are copacetic with the strange neighborhood bedfellows. Burke suggests Google to anyone interested in his experience with the owner of the big box pot store across the street, Ian Eisenberg. “I don’t know his relationship with pot, but I’ve been around it a long time,” he said.
A business move by Eisenberg temporarily stalled Ruckus from opening in 2015 when he installed an arcade in the space before development of his own store began. In Seattle, the arcade, theoretically a gathering center for young and teen-aged children, would prohibit the installation of a retail marijuana shop.
While the gambit didn’t last, Burke and Eisenberg remain estranged and ideologically juxtaposed.
“My feelings haven’t changed,” said Burke. “I think his is the Walmart approach, to drive things to the bottom but we pride ourselves on quality, and we’re focused on that, and reasonable prices.”
Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser.
UPDATE: Looks like the arcade action cuts both ways. In a letter from the winter of 2016, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board notified Ruckus chief financial officer Mike Glazer that an “all-ages arcade” opened above the Ruckus shop did not qualify for a protest of a license for Uncle Ike’s at 15th and Republican:
In addition to including pictures the board said showed that the space did meet the definition of a true arcade, the letter also informed Glazer that a business license for the gaming space above Ruckus was issued after the Uncle Ike’s retail cannabis license had been applied for, making its presence a moot point as far as I-502 licensing was concerned. Ike’s would open at the corner later that year.
Burke said his buyer at Ruckus is more knowledgeable than the rest when it comes to selecting high-quality pesticide-free green. Eddy, is also an inspector at Clean Green Certified and has participated in the medical side of the marijuana industry. In short, “I’ve been smoking weed for 30 years,” he says.
According to Eddy, neighborhood folks are the majority of their business, though tourists do come in. The clientele is evenly split among men and women of all ages but “if anything, we’ve seen an increase in customers in their sixties,” he says.
Eddy and Burke say they don’t generally have issues with people and panhandlers loitering outside.
“I’ve seen an increase in homeless people,” Burke said, “but, I’m troubled by the people who seems to think that being homeless makes you less of a human being.”
Still, there have been incidents that employees say either go well or end up with a “F*** You.”
“It would be somewhat nice considering how much taxes we pay, if the city could supply a police officer to walk the area every now and then,” says Eddy.
Burke is eager use Ruckus profits to contribute to the neighborhood by partnering with Heritage Farms growers this year. Heritage and Ruckus will match each other at $.50 per ounce up to $3,000, which will be donated to Lambert House, the 15th Ave center for LGBTQ+ youth.
Burke says he pays his employees $15 per hour and offers a relaxed discount policy.
Burke’s favorite parts of the job are “interactions with customers and employees. I come out of the 60’s that should speak for itself,” he says. The owner’s go-to is anything from Aurum Farms.
Beginning to take shape in the vacated nook with its own entrance is something else Burke hopes to unveil soon. “We’re doing something unique and we’ll be the first to do it in the state if not the country,” said Burke. Yes, he says he got the idea while he was high.
Ruckus is located at 1465 E Republican and is open 8 AM to 11:45 PM every day. You can learn more at www.ruckusrec.com.