Jerel Registre, managing director of the Curio Investment Fund, capped his time at Cannabis Conference 2021 with some news: Curio Wellness will rebrand its dispensary business as Far & Dotter, part of a franchise model that’s coming to the market with support from the company’s investment fund.
The idea, Registre says, is to back up Curio’s franchise model with a consistent brand that will appear in multiple U.S. states. The franchise model was announced last year, borne out of a desire to see greater diversity across the business. The Far & Dotter rebrand gives that mission a greater visibility, a clearer measure of support.
“We think there’s a lot of value to individually owned dispensaries, but there’s also a lot of power to operating under a broad brand with standard operating procedures and best-in-class practices,” he says. “Being able to combine those two features we think will be compelling going into the future of the dispensary market.”
The Far & Dotter rebrand brings that mission into focus at a time when the company is clearly communicating its priorities to the industry. To be clear, Far & Dotter is a reference to the father and daughter co-founder team at Curio: Michael and Wendy Bronfein. The retail rebranding is a chance to add another business layer to the Curio corporate vision, one that provides a closer connection to the consumer and patient.
Having a consistent brand across multiple retail locations is important, Registre says, so that a company can leverage a broader reach in a very competitive space. Resources can sometimes run thin, especially in newer markets, and a franchise model with a consistent brand can evenly distribute its capital and its assets to areas in need. The consistent, outward-facing brand is crucial in maintaining that connection with the consumer and patient—so that they may feel assured of a certain level of expertise when they walk in the doors of a dispensary.
Brands are familiar concepts—and most definitely a buzz word in the cannabis space right now—and the industry has lately seen a move toward the actual branding of retail stores themselves.
“By building a brand that communicates an understanding or an expectation of that expertise is really where we see a lot of value from branding a dispensary itself,” Registre says.
That expertise will be supported and honed by the Curio team, bringing applicants forward and providing them the tools they need to succeed with their Far & Dotter franchise. This includes help with the actual state license application, real estate, buildout and so on. Registre’s point is that the person who’s going to come in and run the Far & Dotter store may not be an expert themselves in zoning regulations or construction; Curio can provide the resources needed to get them up and running in an efficient and practiced manner.
The company is seeking franchise applicants in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois.
Once open, the long-term relationship will provide those successful applicants with regulatory assistance through standard operating procedures.
“Think of regulatory compliance: Distinct from many other franchise opportunities [in other industries], we have this whole facet of the business that requires us to color within very particular lines,” Registre says. “We’re just helping franchisees understand that they have support in both understanding and maintaining awareness of how not to run afoul some of the trip lines—really integrating the compliance piece into their business. So, they’re not only compliant, but they’re a shining example regarded as a positive member of their community.”
There’s even an on-the-ground suite of business practices that franchises owners can tap for help in running the store. This market moves fast: franchisees can lean on a centralized knowledge pool in an environment like this.