By Kari Bray Herald Writer
SMOKEY POINT — Cascade Kropz, Snohomish County’s first legal marijuana shop, is a family affair.
Off Smokey Point Boulevard, at the end of a gravel drive marked by green ribbons, flags and balloons, Lisa and Brad Kihm have repurposed an industrial building to house their new business.
The mother and son estimate about 600 people stopped by the shop between Sunday, their first day of business, and Tuesday.
“It comes in waves,” Lisa said. “The day goes by so fast. It’s crazy.”
Six people work at the shop, and all have been busy since June to get Cascade Kropz off the ground, Brad said.
“Everyone who is working here is either related by blood, marriage or an extremely close friend,” he said.
Before the shop opened on Sunday, customers lined up in the parking lot and long driveway, waiting up to an hour to get into the store, Brad said. Things have slowed down a bit since then, but there is still a near constant stream of customers.
“There are just so many people who are happy it’s finally legal,” Brad said.
A sign on the shop wall lists varieties of marijuana for sale in neat green lettering, with red “sold out” stickers covering many of the selections.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if we sold out today or possibly tomorrow,” Brad said Tuesday. “It’s starting to go pretty quick.”
The list of options includes Shiskaberry, The Flav, Space Needle, Beaver Dawg and Double Purple Doja. People can buy anywhere from 1 gram to half an ounce of each variety, ranging in price from $16 for some of the smaller bags to several hundred dollars for larger amounts.
The smaller quantities are selling fastest, Lisa said.
“There are different strains and people want to try them,” she said. “We recommend people take it slow and enjoy it. We’re not going anywhere.”
Brad said his family has something to prove with their shop. As the county’s only legal marijuana retailer, the Kihms want to show people that state regulation of marijuana can work. The industry is “taxed, tested and regulated,” Brad said.
“It’s not like the drug dealer in the alleyway is suddenly legal,” he said. “If anything, it’s the opposite. There are still a lot of people who are not OK with it, so it’s up to us to prove that it’s not a free-for-all.”
Employees check identifications in a small hallway before unlocking a door that leads to the main shop, a bright room with yellow and green walls. Large backpacks or purses aren’t allowed inside. While the Kihms say customers have been good so far, they want to be prepared for any problems.
Brad said his goal is to go above and beyond whatever the city, county or state asks of Cascade Kropz when it comes to security.
With a background in construction work, Brad said he never expected to work in retail. But now he and his mom are investing their time and money into a business that’s as new to them as it is to the state.
It’s scary, he said. It’s also rewarding.
“I think this is an awesome industry,” Brad said. “It’s just blooming and it has so much potential.”
While the Kihms are optimistic about the legal marijuana industry, the city of Arlington is wrestling with regulations related to producers and processors.
State law allows one retailer per city, but does not specify the number of producers or processors, according to a city staff report. Arlington has received business license applications for eight marijuana producers and processors, and the state Liquor Control Board has been contacted by 47 others who list their location as Arlington.
The Arlington City Council voted July 7 to enact a 90-day ban on accepting new applications for producers and processors. City councilors and planning commissioners are looking to cap the number of marijuana businesses that could locate in Arlington.
“This is a much greater number of applicants than originally anticipated so early in the development of an emerging industry,” according to the staff report. “Our concern is that very valuable land in Arlington for retail, manufacturing and industrial uses may be at risk.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.