Portland, Oregon is weird and that’s not an insult. They aim to keep it that way. Like Austin, Texas and other pockets of liberal America, the Rose City welcomes eccentricities and prides itself on its many peculiarities. There is a Portland way of doing things where individuality is a pillar of success and uniqueness is a central tenet of business operations. Beards and tattoos are also welcomed.
The city offers artisanal corndogs and late night waffle options to go along with its heroin epidemic and gentrification schedule. You’re just as likely to see a group of skinny jean wearing Ray-Ban enthusiasts on rollerblades as you are a Jnco-clad Pacific Northwest contingent of Juggalos braiding each other’s hair. The strippers have been lobbying the state house and continue to fight for better working conditions. And marijuana is legal. The place has got something for everyone.
Its not all blunts and budder though. The cannabis industry in Oregon faces many of the same problems as Colorado. Greed, dishonesty, political glad-handing, legislative upheaval and over-regulation run rampant making this industry like any other growing concern. In a world of backwards law making perhaps its only fitting that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission is tasked with taking the cannabis industry from the underground to the mainstream. This piecemeal approach to controlling cannabis businesses has taken a dark turn towards 1984. Maybe the OLCC will take a hint from their redheaded stepchild and make liquor bottle tops child resistant or outlaw Jell-O shots for their appeal to young people?
“Regulators are working hard to put the framework in place. Oregon has set some of the best policies is the U.S. market thus far, however policies are being forced too quickly putting unnecessary burdens on operators. I think once the framework is in place it will allow the Oregon market to grow quickly.”
Explained Eli Bilton, the CEO of Portland based Attis Trading Company.
Vertical integration does not drive the Oregon cannabis market in the same way that it pushed Colorado in early years. It is allowed by law but not required. This has opened up an environment that more closely resembles a traditional retail shopping experience where brand equity, visual merchandising and aesthetic drive sales. Location always matters and intellectual property is a new weapon in the drug war.
Attis Trading Company’s approach to business is a bit unconventional. They’ve used market research, industry analysis, budgeting and strategic planning on their way to opening five stores and two extraction facilities across Oregon in the last year and becoming a major player in the emerging cannabis space.
“Planning is a big part of what is setting us apart. Without it is like going off on a journey to an unknown destination without a roadmap. The value of a business plan simply cannot be overstated. Putting ideas and concepts down on paper is invaluable and the act of researching and compiling data is critical to success.”
Establishing this vision of the cannabis industry is as much dedication as it is design. The Attis store colors, furniture and display cases have been chosen by experts who spend their professional lives figuring out which shade of teal will illicit the most positive response from a customer. Layout and flow make each Attis location a master class in efficiency. Freedom to roam around and not be tethered to one budtender has shifted the way in which we shop for cannabis. A thoughtfully curated selection of infused treats, flower and concentrates ensure only premium products are available.
Big Picture cannabis chain stores in Colorado have high tech ordering stations, prepackaged bud and armed guards to churn and burn customers but their weed sucks and they just want your money. The Colorado cannabis business model is sometimes to sell boatloads of bunk buddha to unassuming tourists and clueless locals while paying barely livable wages to the team members doing all the heavy lifting.
Price will always be the lowest common denominator; one hundred dollar ounces speak volumes about a business. This methodology breeds contempt within the cannabis community ensuring squabbling and dissention from master growers and extract artists to Budtenders and company founders.
“I have learned that the only way to build a company with great success and scale is to build a great team. No matter how smart you are, your success as an entrepreneur depends on your ability to build and inspire a team. A successful leader is one who can spur his or her team members to work well together toward a common vision and goals.”
Said Bilton with a look of sincere conviction.
Unlike many similarly positioned companies operating in Colorado, Attis has taken a connoisseur’s approach to building their business and target such a customer in Oregon. The flower that they stock comes from select farms of trusted partners and Attis’s own organic garden where they have been dialing in their techniques for over a decade. The house line of edibles has been developed with world renowned New York chef Ron Silver and promise to be fast acting (think 15 minutes) and use top-notch ingredients and flavors to deliver a consistent and repeatable consumer experience. They are even working on some hush-hush, need-to-sign-an-NDA- to-talk-about technology that supposedly with change the way cannabis is consumed.
“We take pride in providing the best customer experience and quality product possible. We believe in sustainable-organic farming methods that produce superior quality flavor with more intense aroma, resin production and color. We’re inspired to bring a positive image to the marijuana industry and show the public how beneficial these products can be.”
The future is bright for Eli and the rest of the squad from Attis Trading Company. $2.4 million in funding was solidified last July with expansion and product development in mind. Five more Oregon stores are scheduled to be opening within the next year and plans to partner in other states to introduce the Attis brand into new markets are underway. It’s a race to the middle of the pack for most in cannabis but Attis Trading Company is a frontrunner gaining a big lead right now.
Who’s going to catch them?