Forget Sketchy Pot Shops: Cannabis Retail Is Going Experiential At Standard Dose’s Upcoming Store
Cannabis retail is flowering.
Online CBD emporium Standard Dose is taking its concept to the street with the first of several planned locations scheduled to open in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood by the spring. It joins Barneys New York, which is placing a high-end head shop inside its Beverly Hills department store in March, and upscale dispensaries the likes of Barbary Coast, MedMen, Harvest and The Apothecarium in the quest to reinvent the merchandising of cannabis concoctions.
“It’s going to be an experiential and wellness-focused space, not a traditional beauty store,” says Anthony Saniger, founder of Standard Dose and design studio Act Second. “We want to help rebrand and reposition cannabis, and educate consumers on how they can utilize it to live a better life.” Adds Jay Lucas, managing partner of Lucas Brand Equity, a private equity firm holding a minority stake in Standard Dose, “Our intent is to blend the best of both digital and retail in creating the optimal educational and purchasing experience for the consumer.”
Although many of the details of Standard Dose’s upcoming store are being kept under wraps, it could span three to four stories and contain a café serving up CBD or cannabidiol snacks and beverages. Saniger, who mentioned Standard Dose signed a 10-year lease on the NoMad spot, aims to have it make a more meaningful impact than the numerous Instagram-worthy pop-ups that have generated a selfie splash, but not left lasting impressions.
“People are looking for something to create a community that they can be a part of and a space where they can find calm in New York City,” he says. “If you go to a coffee shop, there are computers and cellphones and coffee machines buzzing. We are really looking to this space to provide calm amid the chaos, and that will reflect the benefits of CBD.”
The store will draw upon the month-old e-tailer’s selection encompassing 50 products from 20 brands, including Standard Dose’s in-house line, The Good Patch by La Mend, Plant People, Khus + Khus, Vertly, Wildflower, Hora, Ildi Pekar, Shea Brand, Juna and Calivolve. Among the bestsellers so far are Mineral’s Robyn for Sleep Tincture, The Good Patch by La Mend’s Nite Nite CBD Patch and Period CBD Patch, Vertly’s CBD Relief Lotion and Standard Dose’s Tincture.
“We want to help rebrand and reposition cannabis, and educate consumers on how they can utilize it to live a better life.”
To assemble Standard Dose’s selection, Saniger tested some 250 CBD brands. After he tested them, he passed their products along to about 20 peers and colleagues to test. Standard Dose requires brands supply lab results revealing product contents, and it verifies those lab results with its own independent third-party lab examinations.
“As you look at this space, there are no benchmarks or rules that say you have to put in an exact amount of CBD and be accurate about that. There’s no governing body. Because of that, it’s important to me that we make sure brands are being accurate,” says Saniger, continuing, “I don’t think the big players are going to be able to jump in as fast as they want to, but a lot of small players are jumping in in the meantime, and we’re going to vet them. Because there are a bunch of small players, you need places like Standard Dose to be able to vet them to see that they are quality.”
On its website, Standard Dose guides customers into a CBD segment that can be a bit mysterious with recommendations for beginners, editor’s product picks, and items grouped into sleep, pain and stress collections. Offerings are sorted into face, body, tincture, and food and drink categories, too. The product price range is intentionally broad and runs from $12 to $160. CBD is fast becoming to plugged-in millennials what Prozac was to generation X, but Saniger is big on democratizing the ingredient for the general public.
“We have a lot of customers already that are buying for their moms and dads. It’s not for a very specific audience. It’s not just female. It’s not just male,” he says. “We’re really trying to be the brand helping to bring credibility to the space. We’re not a brand advocating THC, but we believe the cannabis plant has a lot of medicinal benefits, and it can be utilized in different ways.”
“Because there are a bunch of small players, you need places like Standard Dose to be able to vet them to see that they are quality.”
Most consumers aren’t experts on the different ways cannabis can be utilized and the distinctions between CBD and THC. For those consumers, Standard Dose views its brick-and-mortar outpost as an information dispensary as much as a sales engine.
“Retail is key for Standard Dose because the CBD market is in its infancy,” says Lucas. “Consumers are starting out with very limited knowledge and what better way to learn quickly than to immerse yourself in a retail location, especially one that is created by Standard Dose that is highly-curated.”
Lucas Brand Equity invested in Standard Dose from a new $50 million fund dedicated to CBD called LB Equity Emerging Growth, according to reporting by Women’s Wear Daily. Lucas told WWD that the fund will be tapped to back brands with annual revenues of $1 million to over $15 million. Former Redken and Elizabeth Arden executive Karen Ballou, founder of Immunocologie, and Jim Morrison, former CEO of Sexy Hair and president of L’Oréal, are members of the Lucas Brand Equity team.
With funding in tow, Standard Dose’s stores could spread from New York to other major cities such as Los Angeles and London. Lucas says, “The concept of Standard Dose is always to be the leader in bringing plant-based wellness solutions to consumers, so retail will likely be a very important component for the foreseeable future.”