Banning’s City Manager Doug Schulze seems impressed as he looks around Harvest Corner Friday afternoon, the city’s second cannabis dispensary to open in a month.
It is brightly lit, clean and inviting.
“My biggest fear was that it was going to turn into another vape or smoke shop,” says Schulze, in attendance of a private event for city officials and Harvest Corner supporters, a day before it officially opened on Feb. 13.
Schulze likens Harvest Corner to a trendy retail shop.
“It feels like I’m in an Apple store,” Schulze says.
It’s that difference that the dispensary’s partners emphasize: an inviting atmosphere.
Manager Jeff Mao explains that a lot of cannabis shops “are not free for customers to just roam and inspect things. Here you can pick things up, study them, check things out. A lot of shops try to protect their product, because it’s expensive,” and keep them in display cases and behind clear barriers.
“We put a lot of trust in our customers,” Mao says.
The store’s partners visited other retailers in the industry and ultimately chose to open their first shop together in Banning.
“We feel there’s a need here, and the city’s demonstrated that it’s pro-cannabis,” Mao says. “It generates a lot of tax revenue, and we provide a needed service. Everything we sell is tested to the millionth degree. There are no pesticides like you might find at a chop shop,” what he says is industry slang for illegal cannabis stores.
“We want to feel welcoming and allow customers to browse, read the descriptions of products and be able to pick them up,” says Project Manager Robert Kao.
Dan Fried, a business partner and the shop’s operations manager, is a strong advocate for the products they sell.
“My dad has diabetes. This stuff works in