Who doesn’t love a factory tour? Brewery tours, in particular, have become very popular and it is this concept that Denver-based premium craft cannabis brand Seed & Smith hopes to replicate with its cultivation site.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Truman Bradley said that there were two reasons why he thought the idea would work. The first reason is that most of the general public never sees a marijuana grow facility and it is this curiosity that will make it popular. “Whenever people find out what I do, I get bombarded with questions,” he said. “People outside of the industry are fascinated and have a ton of things they want to learn.” The second reason is that people just like to go on factory tours. “I know people who have done the Coor’s Brewery tour multiple times,” he said.
Seed & Smith is located near the Denver airport and makes it a convenient stop on the way to downtown hotels. The tour is free and like many factory tours, it ends in the gift shop. Unlike the Coor’s tour, there is no free product as the tour finishes. Bradley said the cultivation facility was designed specifically to accommodate tours.
There are specific stopping points within the grow facility with video screens to inform and educate the visitors. Each of the workrooms features large plate glass windows for the visitors to observe the marijuana plants growing and to watch the employees trimming plants. “They do feel a little bit like animals in the zoo,” said Bradley as his cannabis employees gamely go on with their tasks as people watch. After seeing the plants growing, the visitors proceed to the relatively new extraction lab and get to see employees package up cannabis concentrates.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Going from idea to reality wasn’t easy. Bradley, like other cannabis entrepreneurs, had a myriad of building restrictions to address. The application process for the cannabis work was slow and then working his way through the building department, even slower. Denver is awash in building cranes these days. Over 13,000 apartments have been added in just one year according to a report by RealPage and another 11,000 are scheduled to open in 2018. A 40-story office building is going up in Denver – the first of its size in 30 years. “Our little project wasn’t exactly at the top of their list of priorities,” said Bradley.
However, Seed & Smith was well-financed by an anonymous angel investor that was willing to stay committed to the project. The site started with craft cannabis strains that are grown in small batches that can be purchased at the end of the tour. The most popular are Sunset Sherbert and Tango. Since then the company has added concentrates and has plans to add edibles. The location only recently opened for tours and there are plans for the kitchen portion of the tour to come on board in the next few months once the edible license is secured.
Bradley hopes that the tours will become popular among convention goers and Denver tourists that want to do more than just visit a dispensary. A large portion of the cannabis sales happening in Denver comes from tourists, so it makes sense target the tourist crowd. He thinks even non-cannabis consumers would have a curious interest in seeing a cultivation facility.
In a Brewers Association study, 64% of the people that went on a brewery tour was in that town for another occasion. The same study also found that after people visited a specific craft brewery, they were more inclined to drink craft beer. Seed & Smith hopes that the tour will increase consumers of craft cannabis when they see the care that goes into the growing of small batches.
Bradley said their group is considering making the effort to create an on-site consumption area nearby. The city passed a law that would allow it, but few have pursued it. Bradley said that the law expires in about a year and for the length of time that it could possibly take to get the approvals, the law might expire and then all of that investment would have been wasted. Yet, to remain true to the brewery tour example, consumption would be the crowning glory.
For those within the cannabis industry touring a grow facility is no big deal. However, for people that have never seen a room full of marijuana plants or smelled the different terpenes associated with a specific strain, this tour could certainly be a highlight of a trip to Denver.