Traverse City News and Events

Weed In The Time Of Coronavirus

By Beth Milligan | March 23, 2020

Recreational marijuana shops have only just started opening up around Michigan in recent months, most of them downstate. But near to Traverse City, two recreational pot businesses have opened their doors, both of them in Benzie County: Great Lakes Natural Remedies Inc., in Benzonia, and Lume, in Honor.

As Patrick Sullivan writes in this week's Northern Express — sister publication of The Ticker — just as these pioneers got up and running, they had to face the same kind of existential threat looming over all businesses in this time of coronavirus. (Of course, they happen to sell a product that’s proving popular in these uncertain times: A sales rep at Lume said last week Wednesday that the store had completely sold out of recreational edible products — apparently something a lot of people wanted to stock up on as they face indefinite sheltering in place.)

That same day, Northern Express chatted over the phone with the president and COO of Lume, Doug Hellyar, about how the company is adapting and what he expects for the near future. "I can really just comment on how it’s impacted Lume, but my guess is the rest of the industry is probably having a similar experience. Actually, business is robust. We’ve had consistent sales at all of our six locations where we’re operational," he says. "We’ve been operating the same hours. The state — the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency — has been very proactive, and they’re taking action to help us promote in-store pickup, home delivery, and curbside pickup."

Hellyar says the store is pursuing a full list of preventive procedures at the store, including increasing efforts to maintain the cleanliness of the stores, developing a regular schedule for disinfecting all surfaces, requiring associates to wear gloves when servicing customers, and limiting customer handling of product. "In certain locations where we have smaller floorspace in-store, we’re limiting the number of customers that we have in both the waiting room and on the sales floor," he says. "If traffic exceeds that, we’re asking customers to sign in, they return to their vehicle, and then we send them a text and tell them when it’s their turn to enter the store."

Hellyar says he has not yet seen any delays in inventory restocking, and has received a boost in sales after offering delivery service, including to Traverse City. "Traverse City makes up the large majority of deliveries that we’ve made from our Honor location," he says. "As word spreads of our delivery capability, combined with the 10 percent discount that we’re offering on home deliveries, we are seeing a daily increase in the demand for home delivery. It’s picking up every day."

Read more about how Hellyar's business is responding to the coronavirus outbreak in this week's Northern Expressavailable to read online and on newsstands at nearly 700 spots in 14 counties across northern Michigan.

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