Earlier this month, STIIIZY opened its ninth retail location in California—this one in Wildomar, about 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles. It was an occasion that brought city officials to the store’s ribbon-cutting to celebrate the 2,500-sq.-ft. store built to support more than 50 local jobs.
Known for its engaging brand dynamics (the flagship LA store features Instagram “art pods” and an interactive LED tunnel running from check-in to the sales floor), STIIIZY captures a lively segment of the California cannabis consumer base. The company targets the cannabis connoisseur who also dabbles in the experience of a retail brand.
We chatted with STIIIZY founder James Kim about how the new Wildomar store fits into that broader story.
Eric Sandy: What does the Wildomar location mean to STIIIZY’s growth plans—both in the sense of geography and the new customer base?
James Kim: Every day at our downtown LA location we hear from people who drove an hour, even two hours, just to shop at STIIIZY. So, this new location in Wildomar not only increases needed access to safe and high -quality cannabis in an area with very few other options, but also brings STIIIZY to a region where we know we have a strong customer base.
Growing STIIIZY into a truly statewide brand means not only serving major metropolitan areas, but bringing the full STIIIZY experience to Riverside County, the San Diego area and everywhere our existing—and potential—customers live.
JK: Because traditional marketing is so limited for the cannabis industry, you’re right that STIIIZY does place a premium on the in-store experience. The Wildomar store will have the attention to detail, excellent customer service, and products and pricing all of our stores are known for, but in a way what’s most remarkable about this location is how “normal” it is. Wildomar’s city government was eager to help us establish a location that was near a freeway and inside a traditional shopping plaza, and that normalizing of cannabis shows just how much the industry and municipalities have evolved from the early days of legalization.
ES: Separate from Wildomar, how has STIIIZY’s approach to retail evolved over the past year? Coming out of the pandemic, in particular, have the business’s different types of customer engagement changed?
JK: The health and safety of our staff and customers is paramount, which means creating and continuously implementing trainings and procedures over the last 18 months.
But despite the challenges, validation of cannabis as an essential business was a win for the entire industry. And for STIIIZY specifically, our continued growth even through hardship is a testament to our existing commitments to hiring only the best staff, finding easily accessible properties in each region, and using social media to maintain an engaged customer base.
Ultimately, we see ourselves and our stores belonging to the communities in which they are located. So, coming out of the pandemic, we’re excited to once again engage more extensively with our customers and the broader community through in-person events.
ES: What’s next? Any plans for the second half of 2021 that we should be watching for?
JK: As I mentioned previously, we’re focused on continued growth during the second half of the year, and beyond. The assets map on our website shows all of our retail stores in development (17 at the moment!), so I’d recommend keeping an eye on that for specific updates.