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Dec. 2, 2021

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Partners open new pot store in Walnut Grove area of Vancouver

Owners of established shops launch Walnut Grove location, plan new construction

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
5 Photos
A sign advertises the new Craft Cannabis location in northeast Vancouver. The shop is on a site formerly occupied by a car wash and is operating out of a temporary building. The owners plan to tear down the old car wash building and build a new commercial space for the store.
A sign advertises the new Craft Cannabis location in northeast Vancouver. The shop is on a site formerly occupied by a car wash and is operating out of a temporary building. The owners plan to tear down the old car wash building and build a new commercial space for the store. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The owners of two of Clark County’s biggest cannabis shops are teaming up to open a new store in the Walnut Grove area. The joint venture comes from James and Rachel Bean, co-owners of Craft Cannabis (formerly New Vansterdam), and Main Street Marijuana co-owner Adam Hamide.

The new store will also be called Craft Cannabis, and in a first for Clark County, the trio plan to custom-build the cannabis shop from the ground up. The new Craft Cannabis is set to open today, but in a temporary prefab building at the corner of the site at 8603 N.E. Andresen Rd.

The property was previously home to a car wash. The vacant building still stands, but the Craft Cannabis owners plan to demolish it in a matter of weeks and start construction on the new building, which is expected to be completed and opened before the end of the year.

New building

Main Street Marijuana and the former New Vansterdam are among the most widely known names in the Clark County cannabis industry. Both stores arrived on the scene in 2014 after the state legalized cannabis, and New Vansterdam led the Clark County sales charts during the early years.

Main Street later caught up and established itself as the Clark County sales champion. Its uptown and east side locations have consistently been the county’s top performing stores in recent years, according to the industry sales tracking website 502Data, although the former New Vansterdam location on Mill Plain Boulevard has remained a strong presence near the top of the charts.

The Walnut Grove shop will be the third Craft Cannabis location overall and the second in Clark County. The Beans bought the Mill Plain store in 2018 and spent the past two years giving it an extensive remodel.

The name change was the culmination of that process. The goal was to create a brand that could expand beyond Southwest Washington, James Bean said, and “New Vansterdam” was too specific to Vancouver. The second Craft Cannabis location arrived in 2019 when the Beans purchased and updated a dispensary in Wenatchee.

The Walnut Grove Craft Cannabis marks the first time any of the three owners has ventured into the realm of commercial property development, although they do have ownership experience: Hamide and his Main Street partners started by renting their shop’s space but bought most of the building for $1.4 million in 2019 (Hamide is the only Main Street co-owner involved in the Craft Cannabis project).

At the time, Hamide said property ownership is a difficult but ideal goal for pot shops because the ongoing federal prohibition of cannabis means entrepreneurs can’t deduct the cost of rent as a business expense from their taxable income.

Development of a brand new building is an even costlier proposition; Hamide and James Bean estimated that the land and building together could cost up to $4 million by the time construction is done. But they said the custom space will be worth it.

Roomy sales floor

The biggest advantage of the new building will be the physical space, James Bean said. The former New Vansterdam location’s 3,200-square-foot sales floor is already one of the largest in the area, but the planned Craft Cannabis building will top it with a sales floor of almost 4,000 square feet.

James Bean said he envisions the added space as a way to provide better customer service, with budtenders available to work with each customer. It’ll also provide a lot of room for displays, he said, which is helpful because Washington regulations lead to a heavy amount of pre-packaging that takes up more shelf space.

The other advantage will be a custom 70-foot cooler with a high-tech temperature and humidity control system for flower products. James Bean described the first two Craft Cannabis locations as learning grounds, where he and Rachel Bean were able to install new coolers and figure out the ideal setup.

“We’re trying to bring something that’s really cutting edge to the market,” he said.

Northern location

The Beans purchased the Bud Hut Vancouver store in the Landover-Sharmel neighborhood last fall and began operating it with an eye toward bringing a third Craft Cannabis location into the chain, but James Bean said they eventually concluded that the shop was limited by a small building and parking lot and subpar traffic access, so they began searching for a new location.

The Walnut Grove site proved to be a lucky find, offering much more square footage and better traffic access in an area that is relatively underserved by the cannabis industry. There are multiple shops along the Interstate 5 and Fourth Plain corridors, but none along the Interstate 205 corridor between them.

“This site was really a pivotal piece of the partnership,” James Bean said.

It also had the advantage of being located inside a small sliver of Vancouver that extends north along I-205 through an area that is otherwise unincorporated Clark County. Vancouver and the county each have a limited number of slots available for licensed cannabis shops, and they’re all currently claimed (although not all in active operation). That meant the only way to open the new Craft Cannabis store was to pick a site inside the city limits and take the slot formerly held by Bud Hut.

That was when Hamide joined the project. He and the Beans already knew each other as fellow shop owners, and Hamide said the Walnut Grove location was far enough from Main Street’s two shops that he could join in without worrying about competing with his other stores.

Hamide said they decided to open a temporary structure during construction rather than continuing to operate out of the old Bud Hut building because they wanted to start making customers aware of the new site and give them a chance to see the new building under construction. Plus, even the prefab building has a bigger sales floor than the Bud Hut building, James Bean added.

Columbian business reporter
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