- THE FIRST LEGAL POT SHOP IN WASHINGTON? Tom Beckley says this is it.
Legal pot shops in Washington don't officially open until tomorrow morning, but here in Bellingham, the good vibes are already flowing. Top Shelf Cannabis co-owner Tom Beckley and his eight employees are all smiles this evening as they put the finishing touches—hanging a portrait of Willie Nelson, preparing for a final product shipment from a Bremerton supplier—on their store tucked in an inconspicuous parking lot across from an industrial yard. They don't seem high, but they are happy.
"We're going to be the first one," Beckley says. Is he sure, though? There are about two dozen other shops opening around the state. "I'm pretty positive we're going to be the first one." Top Shelf will open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, offering the first 50-100 customers a $10 per gram deal, with 18 plus pounds of kush in stock. Does he expect a big line? Yeahhhhh, he says, with a shrug and a smile. Prices will go up to $15 or $20 after that.
- Here's where Washington's first-ever legal pot sale might happen!
"I've had a lot of calls from," he hesitates, "seems to be people from the college, wondering when we're going to be open, how much we're selling the stuff for, and do I think it's a price that college kids can afford," Beckley says. "It's like, why not just say you're college kids?" He says he's even received calls from Texas from people who plan to show up on opening day and "be part of history." There's even some reality TV show crew expected to be on the scene.
Co-owner John Elvich arrives. How much sleep did you get last night? Beckley asks. "I went to bed at 6:30," Elvich responds. "6:30 [p.m.] yesterday." And yet Elvich and his coworkers look delighted and content.
Perhaps that's because—besides the fact that they're selling legal weed—employees start with what the owners call "fair wages" of $15 per hour. "We want our employees to enjoy and love working here," says manager Ward Nelson. They're working on setting up medical benefits and a profit sharing program, he says. And they've gone out of their way to hire vulnerable people who need good jobs, Beckley adds, including disabled individuals and three single moms.
Top Shelf's owners are well aware of how odd it is that Bellingham, with one sixth the population of Seattle, has two pot shops opening tomorrow—the other is a smaller outfit called 2020 Solutions ten minutes away—while Seattle has just one. They hesitate to be too negative about the state Liquor Board, though. They're just grateful they got through the process. Nelson says he's dealt with reams of paperwork all his life, but the permitting process was like nothing he'd ever encountered before.
Now that they're through it, though, it's all shits and giggles. Joke's on Seattle!