Kitsap County gets its first retail marijuana store

Tad Sooter, Kitsap Sun

Before Randy Jones became Kitsap County’s first legal recreational marijuana seller, he worked for eight years as a demolition worker.

It was a solid union career with a stable future, one Jones walked away from to test an industry where nothing is guaranteed, not even access to the product he’s selling.

His Crockpot store in Port Orchard, the first in the county to be licensed under the state’s legalized marijuana law, was set to open Sunday with a few pounds of pot in stock. If other marijuana store openings in Washington this year are any indication, the Crockpot debut will be greeted with long lines of patrons and the shelves will empty quickly.

Jones is taking nothing for granted.

“I have no idea what to expect,” the 27-year-old said Friday as he put finishing touches on the interior of his sales floor.

Jones dealt with plenty of uncertainty since he began drafting his application for a marijuana retail license nine months ago. He had to find a viable location, working within a shifting landscape of state-imposed buffer zones and local ordinances. Many potential landlords turned him away before he finally secured a storefront at 1703 SE Sedgwick Road.

“Finding a location is like a needle in a haystack,” he said.

Jones passed the Liquor Control Board vetting process, submitting to background checks and financial probes. And he got lucky in the state retail lottery. Crockpot placed second out of 40 applicants vying for one of seven licenses available in the county at large.

More state and local inspections followed at the 2,300-square-foot store before he earned the licenses needed to open.

“There were so many hoops we had to jump through,” Jones said. “Nothing was easy.”

No other retail stores have been licensed in the county. More are expected to open in late summer or early fall.

Even with the business fully approved, Jones and store manager Colette Thomas still face challenges. Demand from the more than 40 licensed stores in the state easily overwhelmed the supply available from approved pot growers.

It took Jones and Thomas several weeks to secure their first stock of marijuana, sourcing three strains from growers in Eastern Washington. They’re still negotiating a second shipment.

Jones declined to name his prices, but he said the low supply has forced licensed retailers to sell their product at well above what it’s sold for illegally. Costs should fall as more growers come online, he said.

“This time next year I think it should be pretty competitive with the black market,” he said. “Right now it’s supply and demand.”

Visitors to Crockpot will be welcomed into a tidy store, reminiscent of a bank lobby. Clerks sell marijuana from behind a row of secured windows. A glass case displays pipes, lighters and other paraphernalia for sale. There’s an ATM near the entrance where patrons can withdraw cash for purchases (few banks will grant accounts to pot stores, so credit cards aren’t accepted.)

Having jumped through every hoop he needed to, Jones was excited to finally open the doors to his new business.

“It still doesn’t seem real,” he said.

Thomas agreed. “Sunday going successfully will be a big victory,” she said.

 

Crockpot

Kitsap County’s first licensed recreational marijuana store is at 1703 SE Sedgwick Road in Port Orchard. The store can be found online at www.facebook.com/crockpot420. Customers must be 21 or older.