I am the last person you would have ever thought would get in to the “pot” business. My wife Diane and I, parents of 3 and grandparents of 5, have lived in Ellensburg since 1991. We were the very definition of conservative, dependable but none too exciting. I was very involved in the community on many different levels for years, probably not the demographic of the person you might picture opening a pot shop!
I had been employed in the retail automobile business for 29 years, working my way up the corporate ladder; finance manager, sales manager, general sales manager and finally general manager at a franchised new car dealership. By most measures, I was a success in my field and had an excellent reputation in the industry. Truthfully, however, I began to realize my financial goals were not going to be achieved on my current trajectory and I needed to make a change.
At my wife’s insistence, we threw our names in the hat to be considered for a license in the recently passed 502 Washington State Cannabis world. After achieving a masters degree in Docusign, we successfully positioned ourselves to be eligible for the lottery, during which the “winners” would be chosen to proceed to open a retail cannabis store. On May 5, 2014, we were selected as a lottery winner.
We successfully opened our retail store, named initially “Ellensburg Apothecary,” on August 25, 2014, out of the office of an old 210 square foot gas station. It was not an immediate success, much to my shock and disappointment. Prices were incredibly high, my choices were incredibly limited, and the local reaction was, in a word, cautious at best. I had to adapt very quickly to this skewed reality that did not match my projection charts at all!
To add insult to injury, in November of that year we were told by our state Department of Health that we must change our name, as Apothecary could imply medical benefits of cannabis. We then became “Cannabis Central of Ellensburg.”
Things began improving in the first quarter of 2015 as prices lowered and the quality and variety of product began to develop. We continued to grow rapidly. The 2nd half of 2015 and 2016 were a phenomenally good time for us. After all the hard work and stress, we were succeeding beyond any of my hopes and projections.
In April of 2016, we moved into our current location, about 1700 square feet, and remain there to this day. I am proud to say that at the time of this writing, we are one of the few stores open and reporting sales in 2014 with zero violations.