Slide Show: East San Fernando Valley Cannabis Dispensary Exterior Design in Black & White

Cannabis dispensary exterior design is now a common feature of the commercial landscape here in the east San Fernando Valley. Dispensaries are so prevalent and so commonly seen by us as we commute from neighborhood to neighborhood that most of us no longer take note of their external uniqueness, the character of their facades, or their impact these exteriors have on our feelings about the Valley’s commercial terrain. 

Survey of Cannabis Dispensary Exterior Design

I recently began documenting local cannabis dispensary exterior design on my walks through North Hollywood, Studio City, and adjacent neighborhoods, where many such storefront facades are heavily clustered. The 24 black and white images included in this post are only a small sampling of the shops abounding in the east Valley, but they provide a diverse view of the different dispensary styles and forms encountered here on a daily basis.

Blending Into The Commercial Landscape

San Fernando Valley Residents see and engage cannabis dispensary exterior design every day, whether we consume cannabis or not. I can’t travel very far outside of Burbank before seeing a green cross or punny dispensary sign. But in the years since California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, most of us have come to take for granted the subtle and sometimes overt ways in which dispensaries continue to affect our perceptions of the ever-evolving valley commercial environment.

A Dispensary Exterior Design Niche

As you gaze at the slide-show images, ask yourself if in the years before legalization you ever dreamed cannabis commerce would become so common and so prevalent. Ask yourself if you ever could’ve imagined legalization would become so normative that cannabis dispensary exterior design would carve out its own niche, perhaps taking the place of the now near-extinct record store exterior design or book store exterior design or drive-in diner exterior design.

What does cannabis dispensary exterior design mean to you?

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The Depicted Dispensaries

The following dispensary storefronts are those included in the slide show. Please see my past dispensary reviews for shopping recommendations.

Elevate Dispensary is Sweet & Friendly

Elevate dispensary in Sylmar is hidden right out in the open on the first floor of a corner mini-mall

Elevate dispensary in Sylmar, CA, is a spacious, brightly lit, clean and well-organized shop hosting a robust inventory of cannabis strains, varieties, brands, and products catered to the tastes and interests of connoisseurs and newbies, alike. I drove out to the far reaches of the northeast San Fernando Valley yesterday to meet Elevate’s friendly staff, behold its large stock of wax extracts, and make the most of its first-time patient discount.

Conveniently Located / Anonymously Situated

Elevate dispensary is easy to navigate to, just a block north of the Hubbard St. exit off of the Foothill Freeway. The store is situated anonymously in a corner mini-mall across the driveway from Yum Yum doughnuts. There’s no large sign screaming “cannabis dispensary”, so keep an eye out for the small signage posted on the glass doors facing the street.

A Warm Reception

I caught a whiff of sweet herb wafting out to the sidewalk and found my way to the dispensary entrance. Elevate’s receptionist greeted me with a friendly smile and an offer of assistance as I walked in the door and approached her desk. She was hospitable, deferential, and processed my paperwork quickly. I appreciated the warm welcome very much. My visit was off to a great start!

Yelp photo of Elevate's lobby
Elevate’s spacious and relaxing lobby (photo: Yelp)

Elevate dispensary’s lobby is clean and spacious with plenty of seating and reading material. Although my wait was brief, I enjoyed spending a few minutes relaxing in a comfortable chair where I scanned product literature and a cannabis consumer magazine called Dope. There were several free copies of the current issue strewn about for customers to browse or take home. I took mine home with me for a close reading and for future review.

A Beautifully Bright, Clean & Organized Dispensary

The receptionist quickly finished with my paperwork and guided me to Elevate’s inner dispensary sanctum which is quite large, incredibly well-lit, and which boasts cases filled with products stacked in neat, well-organized, rows. That Elevate can fit so many items into its cases is impressive; that it can keep everything so well-organized is even more impressive.

The brightness of the inner dispensary light was so intense that at first I had to squint. As my eyes grew accustomed to the light and I surveyed the room I found myself muttering, “This is beautiful…this is beautiful” a few times. It was the first thing I said to the budtender who walked over and asked how she might help me.

Elevate's enormous, super-bright, clean inner sanctum
Elevate boasts a huge, super-bright, clean, crisp & well-organized inner sanctum (photo: Yelp)

Budtending Sweetness at Elevate Dispensary

My budtender greeted me with a warm smile and was very sweet and patient as she listened to and tried to accommodate my requests for information about products, strains, and prices. Although she wasn’t a wax expert and had to look up the prices for items that interested me, my budtender seemed genuinely motivated to help me find what I was looking for and didn’t begrudge me the time I needed to make my selections.

Wax Customers, Do Your Homework!

Even with the aid of a sincere and helpful budtender, the sheer number of wax boxes and containers on the 2 shelves in the large, refrigerated, glass case was a bit overwhelming for both of us. It took some effort and skill to direct my budtender to the specific items as seen from her side of the case. Her modest strain knowledge left me to rely on my own cannabis intelligence to differentiate between indica-dominant and sativa-dominant hybrids, but I didn’t mind as it was an opportunity for me to test my own budtending abilities.

Elevate's interior showing refrigerated extracts case
Wax products are kept in abundance in the large refrigerated case on the far right (photo: Yelp)

Customer Confusion When Products Lack Prices

I enjoy working with budtenders even if I know more about cannabis than they because it affords me an opportunity to demonstrate my cannabis expertise. However, I don’t enjoy having to guess the prices of products because dispensary management fails to place price tags or labels on products or shelves. The wax selection process at Elevate dispensary is complicated and takes far more time than necessary because prices are not listed in a way that is convenient for either customers or budtenders.

Most budtenders don’t memorize product prices in my experience, so I did not blame my budtender for her unfamiliarity with the prices of different wax brands and varieties. Nonetheless, budtenders should not have to consult the store POS to check the price of each item in which a customer shows interest. It is inefficient, complicated, and wastes the customer’s time as well as that of those waiting in line.

Elevate dispensary should consider labeling their wax boxes with price tags, or at least label sample containers for each product so that budtenders can easily check prices at the same time they open containers to display the wax to customers. This is a management issue, not a budtender concern, and if at all possible, management should make it easier for Elevate’s budtenders and customers to locate prices. None of us can stare at the big digital board up on the wall at length, scrunching up our eyes from across the room, waiting for information on a particular product to appear in the board’s diminutive, inscrutable text.

A Thoughtful First-Time Discount

With some effort, a little patience, assistance from a second budtender, and with the honesty and diligence of my own budtender, I was able to make satisfying wax choices and enjoy the benefit of Elevate dispensary’s first-time discount (I think it was 15%). I’ve already begun reviewing the grams of Emerald Family Farms and Raw Garden live resin that I purchased, as well as the half-grams of Flavor and House Weed shatter, and I look forward to posting my takes on these products by brands I’ve previously reviewed.

Shop Here, But Come Prepared

My trip to Sylmar was a success and I will return to Elevate dispensary in the future for the following reasons: its friendly, sweet staff, its large inventory, and its competitive prices. My advice to any soon-to-be Elevate customers is to do your own research before arriving. Consult Elevate dispensary’s Weedmaps menu, research the strains and varieties listed, and make a long list of your pre-selections for informed product purchase options.

Bonus Time: Legion of Bloom’s Brand Ambassador, Emma

I would normally end a dispensary review at this point, but after I tipped my budtender and headed for the exit, I spotted the vendor table I’d stopped at briefly on the way in and decided to ask the brand rep about her job. The young lady, Emma, is a brand ambassador for The Legion of Bloom, and she was more than happy to chat.

A Knowledgeable, Experienced Company Rep

Emma answered my questions openly and in much detail. I found what she had to say relatable and on point and was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak in depth with someone so knowledgeable about and experienced with the cannabis industry. Emma was a tall cool drink of water, so happy to talk shop, so aware of the bigger issues related to legalization, and so down to earth and personable. The Legion of Bloom made a superb choice in choosing Emma to represent its brand.

Emma offered a thoughtful overview of her work as a brand ambassador and spoke broadly about her cannabis experiences in Colorado versus California, about the creeping corporatism of the legal cannabis industry, about budtending and dispensaries and more. This probably sounds like an unremarkable, ordinary experience, just to have a conversation like this, but it truly was a rare opportunity to engage someone so knowledgeable about and familiar with the industry.

The Legion of Bloom vape cartridges
The Legion of Bloom vape cartridges are cannabis oil, terps, and that’s it! (photo: cannabis dot net)

An Elevated Dispensary Experience

The reality is that most budtenders lack either the knowledge or the skill (or both) to provide the kind of in-depth exchange I experienced with The Legion of Bloom’s Emma. So thank you Emma & The Legion of Bloom for the opportunity to engage and learn, and thank you Elevate dispensary for this positive, first-time patient experience. I look forward to seeing prices on wax products when I return to Elevate and will be sure to pick up a Legion of Bloom vape cartridge, too.

Lumpy’s Flowers Lifestyle

Lumpy’s Flowers identifies as a lifestyle cannabis brand with a “passion to fuel creativity and forward momentum” in the lives of its customers, helping each of them craft a “positive, active, and healthy” approach to daily living.

Lumpy’s Flowers is a multi-award winning Northern California cannabis cultivator, manufacturer and distributor producing potent proprietary strains and high-quality extracts.

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A Call for Higher Budtender Standards

Budtender working with customers
Budtender displaying cannabis sample or his customers
(photo: Cannabis Reports)

I expect cannabis dispensaries to employ knowledgeable, energetic, customer-service savvy budtenders who’ll reciprocate my enthusiasm and fulfill my product needs and service expectations. I prize those exceptional budtenders who transform my dispensary visits into cannabis bonding sessions where I can learn the latest product and industry news and make thoughtful purchases.

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4/20 Sweet Deals and Better Days Ahead

4:20 Graphics

This past Saturday was Swedish Flying Saucer’s inaugural 4/20 holiday and to commemorate the occasion, we headed out to a few local dispensaries to catch some of the action. We checked Weedmaps and Instagram to look for local deals and holiday product highlights but of the many different bargains and premiums offered nearby, BOGOs, percentage discounts, and dollar deals, though generous, seemed unremarkable. We took our time sussing out dispensaries offering the best discounts AND the best selections while keeping our eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. Although one of our go-to dispensaries seemed to have the biggest discount of the day (30% across the board), their limited extracts inventory kept us looking. If this was to be a truly special day, we needed to step outside the box and try something new.

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Smart Collective Brings the “A” Game

Smart Collective, 10745 Riverside Dr, Toluca Lake, CA 91602

Smart Collective is a humble dispensary, located inconspicuously in the hallway of a single story Toluca Lake office building. Inside the nondescript suite a very clean and spare waiting room accommodates patients while a security guard processes paperwork. The dispensary interior is also clean and orderly and the store’s abundant wares are admirably organized and displayed there in a very limited amount of space.

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