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Oct. 29, 2020

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The Herbery expands as new location opens on Fourth Plain in Orchards

Clark County cannabis chain now has 4 stores

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
5 Photos
Herbtender Amy Johnson, facing, assists a customer with an order while working at the new location of The Herbery on the opening day Wednesday afternoon. The new store is at 12001 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd.
Herbtender Amy Johnson, facing, assists a customer with an order while working at the new location of The Herbery on the opening day Wednesday afternoon. The new store is at 12001 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

It’s only been a few months since cannabis retailer The Herbery opened the doors of its Hazel Dell store, but the local chain is already debuting its next shop, this time in east Vancouver in the Orchards area. The new Herbery opened Wednesday at 12001 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., in the building formerly occupied by hardware and electronics store Duck’s. The newest opening brings the chain to a total of four stores.

Unlike the Hazel Dell shop, which was the brand’s first foray into unincorporated Clark County, co-owner Jim Mullen said he doesn’t view the Fourth Plain shop as an expansion. It’s intended as a direct replacement for The Herbery’s original store on Northeast 164th Avenue, which closed last year.

“Hazel Dell — our store on 78th (Street) — we had always considered that to be our fourth store,” Mullen said.

That was the original plan, but The Herbery owners got word partway through 2019 that the landlord at 164th Avenue would not renew the shop’s lease due to banking issues stemming from the fact that marijuana sales are still illegal at the federal level.

The search for a replacement location was already well underway when the store closed in November, Mullen said, and The Herbery owners opted to keep pushing forward on the Hazel Dell store at the same time.

Opening two stores in one year was challenging, he said, but not unheard of for The Herbery — the retailer opened its St. Johns location in May 2015, just three months after the original store. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the process this time around, making the development of both stores a little more drawn-out.

“Our timing was a little different at the beginning of the year, but this is how it worked out,” Mullen said.

The pandemic didn’t create a reason for the business to hit pause on either project. Sales have remained consistent throughout the year, which Mullen attributed to a combination of factors, including stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits, as well as more consumers finding themselves stuck at home and a temporary regulatory change to allow curbside pickup.

The Fourth Plain store proved to be the more complicated of the two new locations to build out, he said, because it required an extensive renovation of the building to bring it up to current code, as well as a rebuild of the parking lot.

“Basically the entire building is brand new,” he said.

Bigger footprints

The Hazel Dell location took over the former home of the Dragon King restaurant, and Mullen said the building and foundation were in great condition, so the most complicated part of the conversion was just removing kitchen infrastructure like gas and drainage piping.

Both of the new stores are significantly bigger than the earlier Herbery shops — Hazel Dell is 5,000 square feet and Orchards is 4,000, compared with 2,600 square feet at the Chkalov store and 2,200 at St. Johns.

Mullen previously said that the most immediate use for the extra space at Hazel Dell would be for social distancing during the pandemic, but he added that the store includes an event room that the owners hope can be used to host classes once the pandemic is over.

Washington law allows up to five cannabis retail licenses per business entity, meaning there’s room for one more Herbery store. Mullen didn’t rule the idea out, but he said there’s nothing planned.

The addition of the two new stores brings the company to more than 100 staff in total, he said, so for the time being the focus is going to be on getting everybody settled in.

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