The odds were most certainly against them. By the time Tony and Laura Toskov applied for a dispensary license in late 2017, some 800-plus applications had been submitted in Maryland—yet only 102 pre-approved licenses had been issued, according to the husband-and-wife duo. They had spent about $70,000 on the application process, and Tony admits, the lack of state licenses being issued “really made us question ourselves. We thought, ‘Did we do the right thing? And would we even have the opportunity to be awarded a license?’” But on Feb. 12, Green Point Wellness opened its Linthicum Heights’ doors, the 26th dispensary in the state to launch since Maryland rolled out
“Like the opening of any business, there is always a mix of many emotions that come into play—excitement, nervousness,
The team found an ideal location for Green Point Wellness at 823A Elkridge Landing Rd., despite strict zoning laws in Anne Arundel County that stipulate where a dispensary can set down roots. “It took us almost eight months to find our location, and at first, we weren’t even sure it was a good location,” Tony recalls, citing congestion concerns. But the duo’s reticence was quickly disproved. The dispensary’s location is a stone’s throw from the Baltimore–Washington International Airport, Tony says, and the buzzing area has helped them with promotions and marketing, Laura adds. Plus, with 4,000 square feet of dispensing area (2,000 of which is currently in use), Green Point Wellness has plenty of space to display its products—a mix of more than 40 SKUs of flowers, concentrates, topicals, transdermal patches
From Design to Reality
To draft the design plans for Green Point Wellness, the Toskovs visited hundreds of dispensaries throughout Colorado and Nevada, taking copious notes on what seemed to work and what didn’t. The pair was impressed with Las Vegas-based The Grove’s modern design, and they admired Denver-based LivWell’s privacy protocols. Armed with that research, Tony says, “We knew that we wanted our dispensary to have a modern look with a sophisticated-yet-comfortable atmosphere.”
When it came to protecting patients’ privacy, Laura says, “We realized we didn't want to have more than four customers in the medical room at once,” so they built a private medical room where dispensary agents (budtenders) work with patients one-on-one.
Despite its emphasis on privacy, Green Point Wellness was still designed to catch your eye: Expansive windows and a bright green sign, which play into its modern feel, draw in patients. Once inside, patients see ceramic floors that resemble soft gray wood panels, tan walls and six flat-screen TVs, and “the medical room itself makes you feel like a VIP,” Laura says. “We had our custom cabinets made like you'd see in a high-end jewelry store. We lifted those cabinets 14 inches off the floor to make it easier to see the products without looking down at them.”
She continues, “We wanted our customers to come in and immediately feel at ease.” After all, “the majority of people have never been in a medical dispensary,” she says. “They had no idea what to expect, and we wanted to set the standard with a place where our 70-year-old parents felt comfortable, but still modern enough that our friends wanted to come.”
Our approach is less pamphlets and signs and more customer service. That goes back to our commitment to VIP treatment. You’re going to build a relationship with us.” Laura Toskov, co-owner, Green Point Wellness, with her husband and co-owner, Tony Toskov
A Tech-Friendly Dispensary
While Green Point Wellness wants to be inclusive of all patients, the Toskovs
“Having our own app makes us stand out,” Laura says. “There are great apps out there to help you find a local dispensary and products, but we created our own so we could have all of the information in one place. Everyone is always on their cell phone, so why not give them this convenience at their fingertips?” The app is free to download, Laura adds. In addition to listing product offerings, the app helps potential patients become approved to use medical marijuana, she says, by taking them step-by-step through the application process.
What you won’t find in the dispensary or on its app, however, are product pictures. (The state doesn’t allow them.) “Even though Maryland has strict laws about displaying cannabis, we didn't see that as an obstacle,” says Laura. “We looked at that as an opportunity for our staff to be more knowledgeable about the product and how it can help.”
So—sans pictures—Green Point Wellness “created cards that include details about the THC and CBD content levels” of its products, Laura says, adding that “our approach is
Committed to Customer Service
Green Point Wellness’ 14 “dispensary agents,” as they’re called, go through rigorous training mandated by the state, so that they can provide patients with one-on-one attention. That training includes courses on the pharmacology and the therapeutic and adverse effects of medical cannabis. They learn the dosage forms of medical cannabis and their pharmacodynamic impact, and how to recognize symptoms of substance abuse. The dispensary agents are also well-versed in federal cannabis laws.
The Toskovs insist their dispensary agents provide the best customer service by giving patients congenial attention, and many of the pointers they picked up on were taught to them during their out-of-state research. “We were both impressed that the out-of-state dispensaries were so welcoming and forthcoming with their experiences,” Laura says of their travels to Colorado and Nevada stores. “No one ever hesitated to take us through their process of opening and running a cannabis dispensary. We were curious about the types of customers they had and how they trained their staff,” and Green Point Wellness works to emulate that same level of friendly service.
In terms of Green Point Wellness’ foot traffic and patient product preferences, the Toskovs report an average of about 70 to 135 customers a day, seven days a week, Laura says, adding, “We were surprised to see the patches and topicals be so popular. We were also surprised to see how popular the vapes have been.”
A Background That Boosted Business
Years ago, opening a cannabis dispensary wasn’t on the minds of Laura and Tony, they both admit. But when they decided to launch Green Point Wellness, it all made sense: “We have both been in the customer service industry from the start,” Laura says.
Tony started as a limo driver, then eventually opened his own limo company. It survived successfully for 28 years. He also opened a nightclub and restaurant business. Laura worked as a salesperson in a health club and as a membership director at a golf course before joining Tony in the hospitality industry. By the time Maryland approved the use of medical marijuana, Laura says, “It felt like a natural progression for us.”
“Having a background [in customer service] has definitely been helpful with this venture,” Tony says. “Although the product may be different, it all comes down to our knowledge of the product and having great customer service.” And, as Laura points out, it’s easier to offer excellent service when you are doing it in a place you love. “Our community and the state we live in are very close to our heart,” she says. “This is where we both grew up and have built a life together. … Our customers are our family, friends