PACIFIC COUNTY — It’s been a year of record highs and lows for businesses and industries across Pacific County. For one industry in particular, the highs have been very “high” indeed.
As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues disrupting normal operations from restaurants to seafood processing plants, recreational marijuana sales have been seemingly impervious, even recording record sales over the past several months.
Fueled in part by stimulus checks, from March through October monthly recreational marijuana sales in Pacific County billowed compared to the same period in previous years.
Mr. Doobees in Seaview had the biggest jump, generating approximately $450,000 more in sales over the same period compared to 2019, an average increase of about $50,000 per month, according to figures from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. Growers Outlet in South Bend experienced a roughly $330,000 increase so far this year, roughly $40,000 more per month compared to 2019.
Freedom Market in Ilwaco saw sales increase about $280,000, about $25,000 more per month this year compared to 2019. It recorded $137,220 in sales in November, the highest of the three retail marijuana stores in Pacific County.
“Our average ticket sales have gone up,” said Freedom Market Operations Manager Porfitio Chavez on Monday, Dec. 28, as customers continuously funneled in the store.
“We thought it would be slower than what we are, but we always sell a lot of concentrates and top-shelf flower at this store,” Chavez said.
Stress, stimulus check fuel sales
Pandemic stress and uncertainty may have helped spur sales by those seeking relief in marijuana.
“The way the world is right now feels hopeless and people use illicit things to combat that. If anything we’re busier because of that,” Chavez said. “We’ve had a few people come in and just tell us they’re thankful we can still be there for them. We’re here to keep people happy.”
Stimulus checks have also played a role enticing some customers to buy marijuana in bulk.
In the days after the first stimulus payments were distributed, local marijuana dispensaries were inundated with customers looking to buy pot. During peak sale times, lines sometimes snaked around the storefront at Freedom Market in Ilwaco while Mr. Doobees parking lot in Seaview was routinely filled to capacity.
“They’re spending more money but not coming quite as often,” Chavez said.
Despite only allowing one customer to shop at a time due to covid-safety protocols, as many as 20 patrons have stood in line awaiting their opportunity to purchase pot, he recalled.
“It was right when the first stimulus happened with unemployment, that was when it was happening the most,” he said.
Chavez anticipates another surge in sales once the recently passed $600 stimulus checks begin reaching bank accounts.
“I do anticipate another rush, if they give us $600 like they say they are, whenever that happens,” he said. “The direct deposit people will all come at one time followed by those who cash their check. It seemed to be that way last time. If they do the unemployment like they say they are then I think we will see and increase in sales during that period.”
Producers, processors set records
Among the 23 state-licensed producers and processors in Pacific County, some are seeing record sales, including South Bend-based Green Labs and a resurgent BMF Washington.
Green Labs, which produces a line of marijuana-infused edibles and infused joints, had a record month in August, when the tier-2 company generated more than $460,000 in sales.
Millennium Marijuana has had the highest current sales among all Pacific County producers and processors. The Raymond-based tier-3 company had $670,000 in sales in November, followed by BMF Washington ($635,000), Two Heads Co. ($382,000) and Green Labs ($307,000).
The Port of Willapa Harbor in Raymond hosts most of the county’s extensive commercial marijuana industry, but Ilwaco is home to a smaller-scale, high-end grower.