By Matt Nagle
When the coronavirus hit Washington State and Gov. Jay Inslee responded with stay at home directives and closing non-essential businesses, World of Weed owner Alden Linn got right to work making sure that his cannabis business would be prepared. He was one of the early shop owners to make sure that the public knew World of Weed was still open for business, and he installed social distancing features to the sales floor right away. Masks, disinfectants and cleaners were provided to the staff, and when he got the green light from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), he immediately added a curbside delivery option for customers.
“The customers appreciated it and they rewarded us, so we’re really thankful for that,” he said.
He hasn’t had to lay off any of his employees, either. In fact, they were all on board from the get-go, knowing that their work days would be different and that they would have more responsibilities with keeping the store super-clean and disinfected. Cleaning occurs hourly at World of Weed by schedule, and everything is wiped down – from the entry and exit doors and countertops to the ATM machine and handrails.
“It’s added a lot to our plates, but to keep everyone safe, it’s what we have to do. I’m just really proud of my employees for sticking in there. Being essential workers, my heart goes out to them. There is a lot of extra stuff to do, but it’s the new normal.”
Initially, keeping stocked with cleaning supplies proved very difficult and finding hand sanitizers was next to impossible – so they made their own.
“It looked like a chemistry experiment, trying to figure out how to mix the stuff,” he said with a laugh. “Now it’s a little more available, but we still have to go out on special errands when these things get low.”
For a businessman, running those special errands and buying cleaning supplies mean extra costs. Putting in a new window to fulfill curbside orders was another unexpected expense, and without any assurance that the state will let Linn keep curbside delivery when, and if, a post-pandemic era ever comes. This illustrates very well how unfair it is that even though cannabis stores have been deemed an essential business, they cannot receive any of the small business bailouts that other businesses are getting at this time. Why? Because in the federal government’s eyes, cannabis remains a controlled substance.
“The idea that we’re federally illegal in this gray area makes it hard. We’re like the red-headed stepchild – not treated equally,” as Linn put it.
On the upside since the pandemic, business at World of Weed has increased by 30 percent, with customers purchasing more cannabis per visit so that they have enough to last and so that they don’t have to go out among the public any more than necessary. Interestingly, Linn said that cannabis shop owners in Seattle tell him that their sales are down.
“They should be able to get some of that bailout money since they need it,” Linn said. “I think the commuters traditionally from Tacoma to Seattle are staying home so we just have more local daily customers.”
As a result of the coronavirus, orders placed online at World of Weed have seen a noticeable jump. Customers can choose the drive-up service, whereby they call or text the shop when they arrive and their purchase is brought out to them, or walk in to the online order pick-up window.
“We’ve been doing online orders for quite a while now, but we’ve definitely seen an uptick in both of those,” Linn said.
The third option, for those who are healthy and comfortable with entering the sales area, is to come in and browse the display cases.
Looking toward the future, Linn sees World of Weed catering to online ordering more than ever before, and he aims to reach the point where orders are ready within 60 seconds no matter if you’re ordering online from your phone in the parking lot or placing your order at home.
Because of the way that World of Weed is positioned at the corner of Portland Avenue East and East 32ndStreet, accessing the curbside delivery option is very convenient. East 32ndStreet is a residential street and without heavy traffic, so customers can easily pull right up and be on their way.
Spending your money at World of Weed benefits the neighborhood as well. Linn has been a staunch and faithful supporter of the Tacoma Adventist Community Services food bank just up the street from World of Weed, with donations, food drives and giving additional proceeds of total store sales to the food bank during Hunger Action Month every September.
World of Weed is located at 3202 Portland Ave. E., open from 8 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. seven days a week. To learn more and place orders, visit shop.WorldofWeed.com.