Friday, March 11, 2016

Sweet Leaf in Aberdeen, WA

Retailer: Sweet Leaf
Location: Aberdeen, WA

Visited: 02/06/2016 4:20 PM

Budtenders: Liz - blue-purple hair, fun, bubbly, entertaining, smiling
Mike - professional, knowledgeable, manager, proficient

Overall: Return and Recommend!
Highlights: Unique boutique vibe, remarkable pricing, prime brands, exceptional service

The parking lot of Sweet Leaf reminds me of a suburban professional building, it's right on the edge of a residential district and faces the high-traffic area of Hwy 12. There is ample parking, in a well lit, clean area. The parking lot and walkways were immaculate, as were the windows and glass on the doors.

Walking in, there's a great retail counter with a cool worn-pine look that is absolutely unique, and some crisply clean and well lit display cases. I'm sensing a theme in this boutique cannabis stores. The aged dark stained wood floors and creme walls balance nicely against the bright green of the main display wall.

To the right is a cool leather couch with a fun pot-leaf blanket and some awesome signage, and the traditional business card table. A good place to rest for a moment and chill.

Looking left is a bar-sized table with a few chairs, where I sat later and had a conversation with the manager, and these cool gold-painted guitars. There's an amazing display area highlighting glass and other accessories. Everything is displayed with care and admiration. I love it.

It's Aberdeen, so it's mandatory that there be some of the music scene represented on the walls. They also celebrate an Aberdeen tradition First Fridays - the first Friday of every month you can get a special deal. This month, it was buy 5 full gram joints for just $20. Cool cultural deal!

There are these left-and-right matching weird lights and hangings, throwing a cool funky vibe. I love these whimsical pieces - they remind me of how my brain's going to feel after I smoke some of the Sweet As! Satsop Nuclear I picked up.

I spoke at length with the manager, Mike, about how he decides what gets stocked in the environs of their shelf-space. The goal is to highlight premium brands leading the way in Washington's legal marijuana scene, while providing a great value in an excellent environment.

As you look through the shelves and displays, you can see brands from around the state, all fantastic brands with awesome reputations. Every product on these walls is quality, all the brands in the shelves are top grade, and all the products are select. This is a truly curated boutique collection and you're not going to see quite this selection elsewhere.

Widely represented on the shelves, both Sativa and Indica side are new brand Tiller Natural. Tyler from Tiller was on Episode 9 of the Marijuana Encyclopedia and every single strain we touched from them was premium quality and exceptional effect. Every single strain had a definitely head change and each one kicked my ass in succession. Check that collection out for sure.

They offer daily specials here, with 10% off for every day. Check this list out - Munchie Mondays, Top Shelf Tuesdays, Wax Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Facebook Friday, Sativa Saturday, Slowdown Sunday. Also, medical patients always get at least 10% off, which is excellent. It's about expanding safe access, when it comes down to it.

Display cases held all the best products including sublingual tinctures, edibles, breath strips, and candies. There is a big presence of Magic Kitchen which has some amazingly consistent, tasty products that everyone can enjoy, in packaging from single caramels to inexpensive 100mg packages of Pebbles hard candies.  Sweet Leaf also has a ton of drinkables too, including Cannabis Quenchers, which were enjoyed with Aaron Cain on the Marijuana Encyclopedia.

Sweet Leaf doesn't just take time and care with their marijuana products, but also all the accessories you need to enjoy the cannabis. You can't enjoy a drinkable product without a nice glass. This is the first time I've seen store-branded cups and stash jars, although it makes a lot of sense. I bet the WSLCB had a little bit of thinking to do about this, because that's their mission. One great reason for these is it allows you to minimize confusion with non-marijuana containing products to help limit access to adults. Way to make these happen, Sweet Leaf.

They have a great selection of value priced wood, glass, silicone, and clay implements of all styles and varieties. For a boutique selection, the pricing is remarkable.

The people working here are pretty awesome. Grays Harbor is a tight little marijuana community, co-host Aaron's girlfriend LJ is one of the budtenders here, but she was not in the day I visited! She'll actually be a guest on the Marijuana Encyclopedia herself, the day this article posts. This is going to be a big episode with other budtenders as well, so keep an eye out for that soon!

I was greeted instead by Liz who is boisterous, energetic, outgoing, and I think she might be (just the least little bit) wild. She just strikes me as the type who gets the party started and keeps it happening. She was super informative about the products, brands, and strains that were in the store but kept it fun. Her background is as a prosumer or pro-am smoker, and ended up behind the counter in Sweet Leaf one day, a common tale in the industry. She's interested and caring for every customer that came in while I was there.

She carefully lead me through all of the strains that she recommended for quality of experience. For all that Liz struck me as an uplifted, sativa type, she prefers indica, and used to only enjoy a mild sativa-hybrid. Since working in a marijuana store has definitely begun to see the benefits of sativa hybrids (especially with sativa-specific edibles), even so she likes to mellow out with indicas. Her favorite strain right now, is the Dirty Girl and she's real happy with the Exodus Cheese too.

Mike, not so much a budtender but the manager, sat and spent some time with me. He talked in depth about the complex factors he takes into account when he makes decisions of what brands and strains to stock. Customer and community input is upmost, but so is reputation for quality. He tries to highlight local brands as well as those popular in other regional markets, to give Grays Harbor the curated selection of marijuana Sweet Leaf offers. He has a preference for energetic sativas that keep him uplifted and moving, but his favorite strain right now is Blue Hawaiian by Bondi Farms, an indica-dominant hybrid I picked up at his recommendation.

For all that he's managing the place, Mike's background is actually in managing kids teams. He's a sports coach and President of his local Little League organization. His fellow parents, coaches, and other colleagues support him, and understand that he can be an excellent father and a great coach and also be excellent at managing a legal, recreational marijuana retail store.

He coached the owners' children for years before they offered to bring him on their adventure at Sweet Leaf. It was a massive life change, one he had to consider deeply, and with much conflict within himself. His wife and family are remarkably supportive and loving. I know how important that support can be.

The people make the place, and they are exceptional. I saw them treat many customers with care and guided them professionally with experienced leading questions and guidance almost like tour guides through the cleanly presented and immaculately cared for displays.

Along with all the daily specials I talked about above, Sweet Leaf also doing a March Madness strain battle, with a big sale at the end of the month! You can see Budtender Liz in her awesome custom March Madness jersey. These arrived while I was visiting. Everyone's is different.

As part of this curation, it's important to meet deep needs of medical customers, even in a recreational environment. Anyone involved in a legal, recreational marijuana business cannot (currently) discuss medical benefits, effects, symptoms, treatment, or anything else medical in regard marijuana. They can discuss effects of particular strains or products, but not in relation to ease of medical conditions. It's a fine line they must walk.

I, however, can point out the medical benefits of speciality strains that are purpose-growth and developed by caring practitioners who have to be utterly patient. CBD strains are purpose built for pain and disease treatment. Check out this specialty strain by Cedar Creek Cannabis - it's a high CBD Sweet and Sour which is available in a variety of products including pre-rolls and concentrate. This is potent and has a considerable balance, for folks who need entourage effect treatment (which is virtually everyone). Frankly, THC and CBD content at this level is rare. This is potent and comes in a couple different methods - an amazing whole plant extract which is just sappy and amazing or full-gram single pre-roll which is just $5. Awesome work!

There's also another specialty, at a remarkable price - one I've never seen. These super-prime Nectar Craft liquids that are $90 a gram everywhere are just $75 here. That's a big savings! Limited supplies on these premium CO2 extract refills.

Overall, my visit to Sweet Leaf was awesome. I got a bunch of different products, saw some of the best legal marijuana on the market, and got to spend time being guided some truly unique individuals whose care and passion are evident on their faces. I want to specially thank everyone at Sweet Leaf, I briefly met two of the owners as well, and thanks for letting me hang out in your store and share the experience and speak with your customers. Keep up the great work, and I hope you enjoyed those RSO dabs.

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