Coveted for its land and its license, Central District’s Ponder pot shop has sold — UPDATE

(Image: Ponder)

As we head into Independence Day weekend 2022, the freedom to create, sustain, and cash in on your Seattle recreational pot shop is being marked on E Union.

Ponder, one of the neighborhood’s pioneer state-licensed cannabis shops, has been sold, sparking questions about the industry’s regulations and its place in Seattle’s tumultuous labor and workers rights movement.

John Branch, the owner who started the Central District shop seven years ago, said he could not provide details about any sale citing a confidentiality agreement. But he did comment on his years as a pioneer in Seattle’s regulated pot industry.

“I was one of the first people six years ago to start it. I was an original OG,” Branch said. “I just reached the arc.”
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Seattle Cannabis Equity community members want ownership but also better conditions for frontline workers

“Two months ago, I was staring down the barrel of a gun,” medical cannabis consultant Key Porter said. As she was trying to escape her shop, all she could think about was her son several blocks away.

Last week, Seattle cannabis equity community members spoke at the Seattle City Council Finance and Housing Committee meeting. Like Porter, they shared personal experiences working in the cannabis industry and brought up policies that contribute to cannabis equity.

In Seattle, Cannabis equity is about equity for frontline cannabis workers and BIPOC store owners. BIPOC communities are struggling to get a foothold in the cannabis industry, majority of which is dominated by white men. In 2020, Washington’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services said “42 of Seattle’s 48 cannabis retail stores had white majority ownership, of those 37 by white men.”

To help achieve equity in the cannabis industry, Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board established the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force in 2020. To help BIPOC cannabis owners, the task force seeks to issue unused cannabis licenses to marginalized communities, harmed from the war on drugs.

But the path to ownership includes other, also important day to day issues faced by the industry workers brought together for the taskforce including come to face with a rash of armed robberies in the city. Continue reading

How Mandatory Housing Affordability and Seattle’s congested growth made this Central District pot shop the hottest property on the block — UPDATE

Ponder and its mixed-use neighbor, the Stencil development (Image: Ponder)

One of the few coveted parcels in the city that can be licensed for marijuana retail has hit the real estate market in the Central District but demand for the property isn’t being driven by pot entrepreneurs, Ponder owner John Branch tells CHS.

“It has appreciated to the point that retail isn’t a good use,” Branch said about this small stretch of E Union between 24th and 25th Avenues that the Ponder shop calls home. “Increased housing, mixed with retail on the lower floor,” that’s what is coming next, the pot shop owner says.

Seattle’s marijuana real estate boom is faded. The growing city’s other addiction is tough to outpace. The demand for new housing development has driven Branch and Pete Sikov, the real estate investor he owns the property with, to put the Ponder shop and the neighboring single family style house they purchased next door on the market for $3.15 million. They purchased the properties seven years ago for a combined $1.2 million and change.

“This is a unique opportunity to obtain one of the last remaining large parcels in a location where demand for development is at a premium,” the Windermere sales pitch reads: Continue reading

Uncle Ike’s E Olive Way — Capitol Hill’s fourth pot shop — is now open — UPDATE: Friday protest

(Image: Uncle Ike’s)

You now have four legal cannabis shops to choose from on Capitol Hill.

The E Olive Way expansion of the Uncle Ike’s pot chain is open and celebrating its debut with $1 joints just weeks after the shop was targeted and damaged by protesters.

Ian Eisenberg opened the original Uncle Ike’s, the city’s second ever legal pot shop, at 23rd and Union in 2014, and added the first Capitol Hill Uncle Ike’s on 15th Ave E in late 2016. Ruckus beat everybody to the punch on the Hill when it debuted just off 15th Ave E as the neighborhood’s first ever legal cannabis shop in late 2015.

The new Uncle Ike’s will create a second Capitol Hill pot cluster after The Reef opened just up E Olive Way in the former Amante Pizza location in August 2018. The Reef’s new home made the old pizza shop nearly unrecognizable after a redesign of the interior by architects Olson Kundig. Its presence has since spread across the street where the pot shop has stepped up to sponsor a clean-up and upgrades to the Arcade Plaza pavement park. Continue reading

Uncle Ike’s reorg? Pot retailer seeks cannabis board approval as it prepares to open new Capitol Hill shop

Uncle Ike's 15th Ave E

Uncle Ike’s 15th Ave E (Image: CHS)

Filings with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board indicate that Uncle Ike’s founder Ian Eisenberg is reorganizing the corporations and partnerships behind one of Seattle’s largest marijuana retailers as the chain is preparing to open a new Capitol Hill location later this year.

The applications for a transfer of existing licenses to a new Jet City Retail corporation were filed earlier this month.

Typically, assumption applications are part of the acquisition process for a new owner of an existing licensed business. But for the five applications filed May 7th for the various Uncle Ike’s locations around the city, the process appears to be corporate housekeeping and consolidating of the various limited liability corporations and companies brought together to form the various Ike’s entities. Continue reading

Uncle Ike’s ‘Capitol Hill West’ shop ready to start construction on E Olive Way

(Image: CHS)

A year after The Reef won the race to bring legal pot to Capitol Hill’s western slope of E Olive Way, its neighborhood competition will finally begin construction on its new store.

Last week, the city’s planning department finally approved the construction permit for Uncle Ike’s “Capitol Hill West” shop, a project that will convert a former two-story legal office building neighboring The Crescent into E Olive Way’s second marijuana store.

Pot entrepreneur Ian Eisenberg paid more than $2 million for the two-story, 1967-era property in the fall of 2017 as a land rush for E Olive Way properties played out after shifting laws and policies opened up the street to I-502 pot development. Continue reading

Capitol Hill pot shop hit — again — in reported overnight robbery

Police and the Sheriff’s Guardian One helicopter searched northern Capitol Hill overnight after a suspect reportedly held up the Ruckus Recreational pot shop just off 15th Ave E.

Friday night, police rushed to the Ruckus shop just after 11:30 PM and surrounded the shop while waiting to make contact with an employee waiting inside. According to East Precinct radio reports, police began searching the surrounding area with a K9 dog unit but did not immediately track down a suspect. Police were also looking for a vehicle seen leaving the area as officers arrived. Continue reading

‘Please refrain from donating to panhandlers’ — Capitol Hill Uncle Ike’s sign targets handouts

The message posted by @Needs1st calls out Uncle Ike’s for… well, a lot of stuff

The 15th Ave E location of the Uncle Ike’s pot retail empire has stirred up another call for boycott against the business.

Its owner says that a sign asking customers to donate to a neighborhood nonprofit and not give money to panhandlers was driven by the community — neighbors, merchants, and the city in meetings, and complaints on social media like Facebook and the Nextdoor neighborhood app.

But after the sign was moved recently from inside the store to replace a Harold & Kumar movie poster that had been framed in lights out front since the shop’s opening, its new prominence has neighbors talking, indeed. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s king of pot adds the draw of clean cannabis and new E Olive Way shop

Uncle Ike’s Ian Eisenberg (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill and the Central District’s top provider of pot, Uncle Ike’s has begun randomized pesticide testing on products directly from its shelves in an effort to incentivize vendors to provide clean cannabis and push the state to act.

The program, called Ike’s OK, started in October with five products and will continue testing five more products each month indefinitely as a way of regulating a market that is under very little government supervision. The state only requires potency testing certificates of analysis with each product, but no similar documentation for pesticide testing.

For Tobias Coughlin-Bogue, a journalist who has written extensively on pesticide use in pot, the legalization of recreational marijuana, which came in December 2012, was just the first step toward it becoming a safe consumer good.

“It’s not complicated, it’s not like we did any real wizardry,” said Coughlin-Bogue, who helped develop the program. “It’s just a basic safeguard, but it’s one that we should have had four years ago.”

Uncle Ike’s is one of a handful of companies in the retail pot business but its sales outstrip competitors by a long shot. And soon, even more Capitol Hill pot will come through Uncle Ike’s as the chain prepares to open a new location on E Olive Way. Continue reading

Defiant Ruckus growing as Capitol Hill’s non-Ike’s pot shop

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. Continue reading