The competition is not what one might think when they drive by Elma’s new retail marijuana store.
Cutie Judy’s Cannabis Company in rural Elma, at the old Value Ford location and Cdi showroom, isn’t looking to compete with the store in Porter, or in Central Park, or in Aberdeen, or out in Ocean Shores. Think bigger, co-owner David Anderson said recently.
“I was just talking to (our employee) and asked ‘Who is our competition,’ and of course he said Sweet Leaf Cannabis and Miller’s Marijuana, and so I said OK, I agree with where your thought process is, but what about Kohl’s? Or Macy’s? Anywhere that has a retail experience,” Anderson said. “When you go somewhere and you’re treated right and you have a positive retail experience, don’t you want to feel that again?”
And those other retail marijuana stores, they’re not exactly competition either, Anderson says.
“Our competition — the other pot stores — every one of them are good guys,” he said. “We’re all in this together, so it makes sense for us to have an open ear to each other.”
Anderson’s business partner is Russell McGregor who is the president of the Olympia Hempfest.
Anderson also co-owns Zia, another recreational marijuana store in Hoquiam (Anderson has a different business partner at Zia). Like Zia, Anderson hopes Cutie Judy Cannabis Company can offer an accessible location, a wide selection, and incomparable customer service.
Zia supplies products from 25-30 farms. Cutie Judy’s currently has products from 13 farms, but Anderson said the goal is to get the stock and variety to match that of his Hoquiam store.
Products go for as low as $5 for edibles or $6 for a gram of marijuana. The store also carries concentrates, lotions and rubs, and teas, as well as different types of hardware.
“We’ve tried to listen to our customers, and if they come in and there’s a product that they like, we definitely listen to them and see if we can help find it for them,” Anderson said. “Customers aren’t shy. They’re going to let you know what they like.”
While there are bags of marijuana in the storefront, Anderson sounds more like a family man in his office. In fact, the name Cutie Judy is directly tied to his family.
“Judy is my mom. My whole life, I’ve called my mom Cutie Judy,” Anderson said. “When we were getting ready to open this store, my wife TracyLee said we should name it Cutie Judy’s Cannabis Company, and I was like, ‘OK, you call mom and ask her.’ And my mom said ‘Of course — but I want a T-shirt and I’m going to wear it to the casino and tell them that’s mine.’”
And the story of how Anderson became an excelling businessman in Washington State’s budding business is rooted in family as well.
Anderson’s son, Augustine, is a brain cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with glioma astrocytoma (brain tumor) at the age of 17. Surgery in Houston, Texas, saved Augustine’s life, Anderson said, but following the surgery, his son was on two types of seizure medication.
“We were thinking, there must be another alternative to the pharmaceuticals” Anderson said. “We started looking at cannabis and I worked in a medical shop for a couple of years.”
Originally from Albuquerque, Anderson said they sought the help from the purported medical properties of marijuana. Their decision paid off.
“He hasn’t had a seizure in the four and a half years since he’s been treating it with cannabis,” Anderson said. “And he does not take (seizure medication) anymore.”
When marijuana was on its way to becoming legal in Washington State, Anderson said he and his wife, and their friends, packed up and moved from the Land of Enchantment to the Evergreen State.
“We moved from Albuquerque to Grays Harbor County of all places,” Anderson said.
A longtime manager for Discount Tire, Anderson walked away to chase the American Dream — success, entrepreneurship. And he found it.
“It really is like living the dream,” Anderson said. “It’s a lot of work, but at the same time, it’s not like coming to work. I’ve always been a people person, and we’re in the people business. When people come in here, they’re usually in a good mood — it’s not like they had a blowout and they need to get new tires.”
Anderson hopes the location along the eastbound lanes of Highway 8, just past Heise Road, will prove an accessible and safe location.
“We want this to be an inviting, easy and safe environment for our customers,” Anderson said. “There still is a stigma on the recreational cannabis industry, and some people don’t want their neighbors or family member to see them. It’s nice that you can come out here and get in and get out.”
Anderson opened Zia in May 2015 (he’s quick to point out that he received his retail marijuana license on April 20, 2015). More than a year later, he opened Cutie Judy’s Cannabis Company on Sept. 12.
“We’ve been open a couple of weeks. It’s going about as good as can be expected,” he said. “As people find out we’re here, they’re coming.”
It can be a lucrative business. Zia boasts 300 paying customers per day, and Anderson said some 400 people total come and go every day.
Despite being unable to take credit or debit cards, Anderson said retail marijuana is like any other business (aside from the 37 percent excise tax and the 8 percent sales tax). And Cutie Judy’s is prepared with an ATM on site. It’s very much a mutually beneficial relationship — the ATM is not owned by Anderson and he doesn’t charge rent for it.
Cutie Judy’s Cannabis is open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
“There are a lot of choices out there, and we want people to come by and see what we have to offer,” Anderson said. “When they come in, they’re going to always be treated right.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story reported the incorrect highway. The store is located on Highway 8.