Increasing availability of recreational marijuana
FOUR MONTHS AGO, we wondered aloud whether Marquette was about to become Pot City USA. Back then, assistant city manager Sean Hobbins estimated that, based on interest he had seen, maybe five shops might open in the city in the first year of recreational legalization.
Looks like he gauged that about right.
We’ve seen an uptick in activity by prospective marijuana entrepreneurs, but certainly not a stampede to open their doors as soon as possible.
What’s interesting, and maybe predictable, is that shops are appearing in clusters.
Three apparent shops here. What is now the Farmer Q’s store has been granted a special land use permit to become a pot retailer, but has not yet been granted a marijuana license. Farmer Q’s co-owner Susan Brian says the the store will continue to sell produce and groceries at least through the summer.
Stores at the former Beef-A-Roo, in the foreground and the current Farmer Q’s, in the background, would be across the street from each other.
Across the street, the former Beef-A-Ro0 property has also been granted a special land use permit to sell marijuana. No marijuana license there yet either.
And a few blocks down the highway, the former Union Grill recently got its zoning changed, with the intention, according to Hobbins, of applying for a special land use permit, and becoming a marijuana micro-business. A micro-business is different from other stores in that it sells product from only one grower, not several.
So…three new stores within a few blocks of each other. Overkill? Competitive suicide?
“The City Commission made it clear they wanted the businesses to be unlimited in the neighborhoods where they were allowed, with no buffers between them,” Hobbins explains. “The idea is that the free market will sort itself out.”
Two stores here on West Washington Street, directly across the street from each other.
The former Preserve will become a second Fire Station, with an anticipated opening date of mid to late July. This new store will have three times the retail space of the original Fire Station in Negaunee Township.
The former Preserve, in the foreground, and the former Auto Value, in the background, lie directly across Washington Street from each other.
And then there’s the former Auto Value store, which recently closed down. Next week, the new property owner goes before the Planning Commission to request a special land use permit to become a marijuana retailer.
More head-to-head competition.
“We welcome it,” says Jeremy Johnson, who with his partners, still owns the Preserve property, and will now become an employee of the Fire Station. “It’s expanding the downtown, moving it farther west. We expect that our products will speak for themselves.”
No official action here yet, according to Hobbins, but at least one property owner here is expected to apply for a special land use permit and a marijauna license in the not-too-distant future.
Township manager Randy Girard says there has been some interest expressed in opening up a marijuana shop here but the township currently has opted out of allowing such shops. He adds, however, that the township board is now considering the pros and cons of allowing pot retailers in the township.
The Fire Station, on US 41 in Negaunee Township, was the first recreational marijuana store in Marquette County.
This, of course, is where it all started with the opening of the Fire Station late last year. A relatively small store that’s made a big splash with crowds that sometimes have filled their parking lot.
They now have competition from Lume, a chain from downstate that is now moving into the Upper Peninsula, as well.
Again, direct competitors, located less than two miles apart. Is there enough room for both of them, along with all the competition just ten minutes away?
“During the first few years in Colorado (after recreational pot was legalized), there was an explosion of stores there,” says Logan Stauber, one of the Fire Station’s owners. “Everybody was rushing to get in. Some of them overpaid for their properties, and then three years later, they found out that some of these cities couldn’t support all the stores. And they had to go out of business.”
A cautionary tale. The market for marijuana, both recreational and legal, can be lucrative but it’s not limitless.
But in the Upper Peninsula, it appears, the marijuana business is still in its infancy and it will likely grow.
Question for Logan Stauber: “Are you planning to open more Fire Stations?”
Stauber: “Yes. I can’t tell you where at this point, but yes, we’re planning to open more businesses in the Upper Peninsula.”
Surgery scheduled for Wednesday
GOOD NEWS FOR Skip Lyons, the 62 year old Ishpeming man who was diagnosed with kidney cancer back in March but was told that his surgery would be delayed because of COVID crisis and the fears that UPHS might be overrun by COVID patients.
He was subsequently told that his surgery, rescheduled for early May, would again have to be delayed because there was a shortage of argon gas needed for the surgery.
Well, he’s going in for the surgery on Wednesday. The COVID crisis, at least for now, is over, and apparently the argon gas been located.
Tough times for hospitals, tougher times for patients like Lyons whose surgery was considered “non-urgent.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Skip Lyons.