Thursday, August 27, 2015

Freedom Market in Longview, WA

Retailer: Freedom Market
Location: Longview, WA listing

Visited: 08/23/2015

Lowest-cost: $8  Purple So. Cal Master Kush Indica
Budtenders: Korey - chill, knowledgeable, caring, MMJ background
Derek - outgoing, smiling, cool

Overall: Return and Recommend!
Highlights: Amazing selection.  Good service.  Value in all quantities.

I visited the Freedom Market at night, and the "front entrance" the above picture references is rather non-descript comparatively - just a door at the top of a few steps that says "No Minors" prominently.  The building the marijuana store is located in itself is pretty easy to identify, because it's the Freedom Glass building which has big murals all over it, featuring the Red Gold and Green.  Irie.  The big green glass windows and much of the trim matches the bright green of the other Freedom Market.

What you don't want to do is go around back to take pictures of the waving inflatable Greenman and other mural, then end up going down the stairwell painted the same green as the front windows and the other Freedom Market.  Down there it says "No Trespassing" and another sign saying "Video Camera in Use".  So I climbed right back up those stairs and went around to the front (only) entrance.

Entering the store, especially at night, it's very well lit.  Especially compared to the atmospheric Kelso store, this Freedom Market is very bright and clean.  It's relatively straightforward and simple.   There's a large lobby area, a lounging place with a couple chairs and a little arcade table (there's one in the Kelso store as well, in their lobby).  While it's a cool little chill spot, it's also where the vacuum is kept and the signs in front of the arcade table didn't really make me think it was there so much to chill, use and enjoy as it was to display how chill and cool the place is.

The actual retail store area is like a long hallway attached to the back of the lounge area/entryway.  There's a small door separating the two areas, which might be more easily seen as the actual front door of the retail store.  Once you enter the retail store proper, far ahead of you is a glass display cabinet and a wall of marijuana.  As you step toward it, it's almost a surprise to see to your left a wall of marijuana that goes all the way down to the far end where the other display is.  Each of these walls of marijuana is fronted by glass cabinets also full of marijuana.  The bounty of pot is amazing!

Once I got to about the middle of the store I stopped and turned and looked around.  There's a long blank wall on the right side of the entrance so your back is to this wall while shopping the long side, and a single door out the other way (an employees only door leading to the back, behind the counters).  It's not a very large space, but there is a serious amount of marijuana in this store.  I feel like this is a successful, prosperous store and I definitely don't think they're the type of place to run into a 'dry spot' or have bare shelves in between deliveries.  They're always holding! 

There is just a phenomenal amount of product in this shop.  Frankly, it makes me wonder because this store is so close to the Freedom Market in Kelso.  They have much of the same product, but entirely different atmosphere, and that's when it hit me.  They're doing so well because these two stores are completely distinct from each other in design, layout, and staff.  They carry similar but not identical product.  I think there's a totally different - but similarly awesome - vibe in both stores.  The selection of product just cannot be beat and the prices are absolutely fair, and that holds for both Freedom Markets.

One thing that makes the vibe so unique to this store are the budtenders.  I was greeted first by budtender Korey who was in the back of the store, and then by Derek.  They greeted me when I was in the middle of the retail area looking around.  Korey's look instantly identified him as a marijuana expert, and an all around chill kind of guy.  His body language was relaxed and he had an easy smile.  While we were talking, he told me a bit about his medical marijuana background, and that how he loved to work finding people the right strains for them.  Korey just strikes me as the kind of person who is full of compassion and knowledge with which to take action on that compassion.

We talked about my preferences for weed, and some things we were specifically looking for - like a smooth smooth smoke - and that's when budtender Derek spoke up.  Where Korey exudes relaxed chill, Derek has a vibe of activity and excitement, like he's been waiting all day to talk to you.  His smile said he couldn't be happier about it!  When you work in retail, many people have a 'first impression' of you.  By his ink and appearance, Derek's instantly marked as cool.  

He was standing in front of the PhatPanda display already, and I knew I was buying some of that brand this visit.  He reached for a jar and set it down, and I was instantly skeptical - Exodus Cheese.  "I've always found cheese strains to be harsh and oily!" I said.  "This is super smooth" Derek said, "Trust me, it's smooth".  Read the linked review, and you'll see how right he was.

These two budtenders did a phenomenal job - in entirely different ways - at steering me toward outstanding marijuana that met what I was looking for.  I did happen to get one kind of rough gram, a brand I'd never had and a strain I never heard of.  I didn't get it on recommendation however, I picked it out myself and will be reviewing it later this week.  

On the way out, other customers had come in and the shopping area was far less crowded than I'd think it would be with more than just my wife and I in the space.  I really wanted to get a great action shot during this visit, so I ran back up after I was done being helped and snapped this shot of budtender Korey doing his thing helping a customer find the right strain.  The random stranger told me I could use his image.

Overall, Freedom Market in Longview was excellent.  The selection is amazing, the prices are fair, and the staff was great.  I will absolutely be returning.

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