Since the beginning of the pandemic, cannabis dispensaries have been deemed “essential” and allowed to stay open. However, stores have had to make changes to accommodate new models of doing business. Jay Handal, who owns Erba Market on Pico Boulevard, has made and noted several shifts over the past few months.
The health precautions Jay has instituted for staff and customers include conducting temperature checks upon entry, requiring masks, and limiting entry to 10 customers at a time. “We want to be safe,” he says. Though fewer customers were coming in initially, he’s seen visits rise again over the past few weeks to nearly 700 customers a day.
Jay has also seen a rise in delivery orders to accommodate the demands of social distancing. He predicts that the days of “deli dealing,” where customers could see and smell products, are waning: “Delivery is going to always be a big part of this industry moving forward,” he states.
Overall business is up, Jay says. “There’s not a whole lot to do anymore. So [people] are smoking a lot, they’re eating edibles a lot, they’re trying to get rid of their anxiety, they’re medicating.” Jay theorizes that the spike in orders of edibles may be due to people reconsidering smoking during an outbreak of a virulent respiratory disease.
While they’ve always welcomed newcomers to the dispensary, Jay has seen more people trying out cannabis products for the first time during the pandemic as well. Their two main customer groups are aged 21-39 and 55 to 75. The store holds senior hours for the latter category – although he sees customers “from 21 to 100.”
Unlike many in industries struggling to adapt, Jay is relatively serene about the future, and is continuing with plans to open new stores. “This is just a different time, and you manage it differently,” he concludes. For more information, visit www.erbamarkets.com.
By Anne Wallentine