Enter the Green Room

Departments - Great Ideas

Denver’s Seed & Smith gives customers a behind-the-scenes, educational tour about how the company grows and manufactures products.

April 12, 2018

Photos courtesy of Seed & Smith

If you have spent time in a cultivation facility, you are familiar with the typical list of people you might encounter: the master growers, the extraction specialists, the chefs, the packagers.

When Truman Bradley enters his cultivation facility, though, he might see six 80-year-old members of a local bridge club, a family of four or two best friends in town for a long weekend.

These people aren’t working in Bradley’s grow, nor are they wandering unsupervised through restricted areas. They are there to peek behind the curtain of a legal marijuana grow and learn how cannabis is grown. It’s all part of the Seed & Smith customer experience, an experience Bradley has worked tirelessly to develop.

Seed & Smith is a Denver- based, vertically integrated medical and recreational dispensary. Its 21,000-square-foot facility houses the company’s grow, dispensary, extraction lab and packaging department. Having all under one roof allows Seed & Smith a unique opportunity: It can give anyone over 21 an interactive, “brewery-style” tour of its full-service cannabis facility, providing an exclusive look at and understanding of how cannabis businesses operate.

Location, Location, Location

Bradley’s dream was always to offer a consumer-facing tour—a “Napa-style experience”—as he says. So when searching for a location, he needed a place zoned for retail and cultivation. That process “took years off my life in stress,” Bradley says. “Denver was like [the board game] Settlers of Catan; there were only a few spots on the board left.”

He found the perfect location near the Denver-Aurora border: an old forklift-manufacturing facility with 21-foot ceilings that would “allow the plants to expand and to breathe and to be grown the right way.” Roughly halfway between Denver International Airport and downtown, the dispensary and its tour have become a hot tourist attraction, while also sustaining a robust local clientele, despite its mostly industrial surroundings, Bradley says.

The Tour

Seed & Smith prides itself on two things: transparency and producing high-quality craft cannabis. The tour helps with both by keeping the company accountable, says Bradley. “We are on display four days a week, and so it’s really important that we do take the extra time and take that extra focus to make sure that we’re rock solid … and that carries all the way through to the retail side.”

Clockwise from top left: A Seed & Smith employee trims plants in the bud room; an example of the company’s White 99 shatter; one of the windows that peers into the veg room; Seed & Smith extracts being produced.

Groups meet in the dispensary’s lobby before Director of Customer Experience Samantha Schafer, or another manager, leads the group around the building and into the tour’s first stop: the vegetative room.

Inside the Veg Room

A goal of the tour is to “show customers the entire life cycle of a cannabis plant … from seed to sale,” Bradley says. That education begins in the veg room. Customers watch a short video that details the differences between seeds and clones, and the cultivation process from vegetation to packaging. After the video, two black curtains are raised, and customers can peer into a large, fully stocked veg room. Note that tour-goers never actually enter any of the rooms. “We touch on the fact that if you were able to walk into the grow room, that would potentially bring contaminants into the grow room,” Schafer says.

Instead, Seed & Smith has a pallet of its soil on display as well as an example of its planting pots. “We allow you to put your hands in our coco-soil blend, so you can kind of feel what [it’s] like. … You can read the ingredients. We talk about … why it is important to grow cannabis a certain way,” Schafer says.

The Bloom Room

At the next stop, the bloom room, samples of recently harvested and cured flower are displayed in magnified, perforated jars. Guests are asked to smell each and identify whether they smell citrus, cheese, diesel or berry. Once the scent is identified, they can then flip over a card to learn more about the strain. Three large windows are color corrected to make the room’s lighting appear normal so people can take selfies in front of the plants. One window remains without color correction to show “the incredible orange-light that the plants are existing in,” Schafer says.

Customers aren’t the only people visiting. According to Bradley, the tour’s success has led to members of regulatory agencies coming through to train new staff. He says the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently toured. “The tour allows us to work with regulators and have transparent dialogues regarding safety, compliance and operating procedures to assist these agencies in making informed regulatory decisions.” Bradley explains.

Harvest Hall

The “harvest hall” is where tour participants see the extraction lab and packaging room. Upon entering, guests can gaze through a window as technicians create slabs of shatter, distill pure THC and isolate terpenes. Inside the packaging department, workers are seen meticulously weighing flower, and guests can hold a 1-pound bag of vacuum-sealed bud and take pictures.

Next stop is the “Smelfie Station.” While discussing extraction, tour guides touch heavily on terpenes. The guide sprays isolated terpenes onto cards for guests to smell. Schafer says the idea came from perfume stores. “It’s familiar to people, so it immediately takes away the stigma, and it educates people about terpenes.”

A few plants are on display in the dispensary’s chic lobby.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Bradley and Schafer get to see how much their guests retained when the tour ends at the dispensary.

“When people shop, they often say, ‘I want your highest-testing strain,’ but when they come for a tour and they learn about the effect terpenes can have in your body, and the aromatherapy qualities of the terpenes, they go into the shop [and] start asking different questions like, ‘What is your freshest product?’ rather than ‘What’s your highest-testing strain,’” Schafer says.

She estimates 95 percent of tour-goers visit the dispensary, and about 85 percent purchase something.

“We’ve always believed that if people could see how their cannabis is grown and extracted that frankly they would make different purchasing decisions,” Bradley says. “That’s why we’ve set up the tour the way that we have.”

Scott Guthrie is senior editor of Cannabis Dispensary.