In this month’s episode of Meadow Memo, our CEO David Hua sat down with Crystal Millican, Head of Retail at Cookies.

With 50 retail locations in 17 markets across 4 countries, Cookies is a globally recognized cannabis company with a family of top-selling cannabis brands including Runtz and Grandiflora. In her own words, Crystal is “Responsible for blitzscaling their retail footprint across California, the US and abroad to bring more people together to experience the Cookies lifestyle.”

We talk about how she navigates the chaos of working in a still federally illegal industry, the importance of a resilient mindset, embracing the hustle, building partnerships, managing growth, defining the customer journey, working with Berner and more.

Cookies Head of Retail Crystal Millican

Crystal has been gracious enough to also share wisdom at our last two Meadowlands — she participated in our 2020 Meadowlands Digital panel about Streamlining Dispensary Operations and came to Camp Navarro in 2021 to speak on the Industry Leadership Panel. We always learn something new when we hear from her.

Check out today’s full interview (highlights and bullet points below):

Meadow CEO David Hua and Cookies Head of Retail Crystal Milican discuss Building a Successful Multi-Shop Cannabis Retail Operation

Highlights of Our Conversation:

  • Selling weed and demand planning in new markets like Australia and Israel (3:44)

  • Licensing the Cookies brand to local partners (4:21)

  • Hoop jumping in the industry, plus Covid-19 challenges compounded with inflation and high gas prices and what that means for people’s cannabis spending (6:56)

  • Adjusting shelves to offer more affordable yet still fire product (9:26)

  • Variations in purchasing patterns by geography and markets (10:23)

  • Securing the entire supply chain to launch new markets, and the village it takes (11:12)

  • The importance of a resilient mindset, having a sense of humor, hustling, “embracing the chaos,” building partnerships and treating people well (13:10)

  • Omni-channel sales, meeting the customer where they are, and the role of the budtender in guiding the experience (17:01)

  • Tailoring sales strategies to each specific channel and why platforms like Meadow are so important for the industry and creating smooth customer experiences (19:01)

  • How to weather the storm of California cannabis (note: We did a deep dive on this topic in last month’s Meadow Memo with Marie Montmarquet), the natural urge to reduce expenses during a recession, and the other levers to consider pulling, ie. improving visual merchandising, improving customer journey, tailoring retail buying based on customer data, investing in technology, differentiating the brand, training staff across departments (19:41)

  • Measuring cannabis retail business health via metics like same store growth, ATV, basket size, lifetime value of the customer, customer retention, what’s selling within specific pricing tiers, analyzing brand sentiment and more (24:30)

  • Berner’s role as an influencer, founder, and his emphasis on Cookies core values: “Respect the plant, honor the legacy, put the fam first, and embrace the hustle” (26:00)

  • What retailers need to know if they’re interested in joining the Cookies family (28:11)

  • The impact of the unregulated market and why “people will go where you’re selling the most fire weed” and crafting an ideal customer experience in Cookies stores (30:24)

  • The challenges of scaling from 2 stores to 50 and the importance of building structure and process, especially with your tech stack & customer journey (31:40)

  • The importance of social equity education; “Meadow’s retail compliance lessons were a huge help for us in executing on our vision for Cookies University” (36:20)

  • The vision of bringing the Cookies experience across the globe (38:52) Cookies’ new product line containing mushrooms for cognitive well-being (40:36)

Cookies cannabis retail software Meadow

Before we jumped in, Hua twisted up some “Bernscotti” that he bought from Berners on Haight, a Meadow-powered Cookies dispensary in SF (which was grown at Cookies Maywood, another Meadow-powered shop!) He loved the notes of coffee, vanilla and nut.

Cookies Bernscotti cannabis strain

Thanks for digging into this Meadow Memo on Building a Successful Multi-Shop Operation.

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