Photo by John Fannin
Display cases showing marijuana products available to customers are ready, and computer work stations are being set up at Altitude in Prosser. Pictured is company spokesman Manel Valenzuela, as well as the company’s logo in the inset photo.
As of Tuesday, July 1, 2014
PROSSER – Indica, Sativa, bud tender, cannabis coach.
If you don’t know those terms you’re about to as the Yakima Valley’s first marijuana retail store opens in Prosser one week from today on Tuesday, July 8.
Altitude at 260 Merlot Dr. is one of about 20 marijuana stores to open this month. Altitude is the only store licensed in the Yakima Valley.
July 8, the legal date to start selling marijuana, will serve as Altitude’s soft opening. A grand opening is set for Sunday, July 20.
“I can’t say it’s 100 percent, but most of the response has been positive,” says Manel Valenzuela, the spokesman for Altitude.
He says research has gone into the creation of Altitude, noting some of the partners travelled to Denver, Colo. to check out the launch of retail marijuana sales.
Prosser was deemed as the right spot in the valley because of its central proximity to Yakima and the Tri-Cities, says Valenzuela.
With Grandview, Sunnyside and Yakima not allowing marijuana sales, Prosser became an even more attractive locale as it’s legal to set up shop there.
Valenzuela says city staff in Prosser have worked well with him in getting permits for construction and the business.
Speaking of construction, Altitude will open in an 1,800 square-foot modular building. The store’s permanent home, though, will be a building three times that size near the back of the lot the company owns.
When it opens next week, Altitude will sell paraphernalia, marijuana and edible items infused with pot.
Customers will first go to an area with display cases of marijuana products. They’ll then pay for the item, receive a ticket from the bud tender (cashier), then proceed to another counter to exchange the ticket for the product they’ve purchased.
Valenzuela says the two-step process is for security purposes. Besides the legal hoops Washington requires of retailers – such as background and financial reviews – security cameras are everywhere in the store.
“There’s no blind spot in here,” he says of abiding by state rules requiring every spot – and everyone – in the store be visible on a security camera.
Valenzuela says the store will hire 50 employees, with an eye towards candidates having general retail sales experience.
He adds Altitude will have cannabis coaches available to help shoppers inexperienced with marijuana select the Indica or Sativa plant product that best meets their needs.
For example, he says a customer who has been on the road all day and wants to unwind during his stay in town would be advised to purchase a product infused with the Indica strand.
Valenzuela says concerns by state officials regarding sufficient supply to meet demand won’t apply to his store. “We’ll have 1,500 to 2,000 lbs. available,” he said.
The store will loop video on a big screen TV in the lobby showing where and how the marijuana they’re buying is harvested.
Valenzuela says that will be a big improvement for consumers.
“Right now people are getting it on the black market, and they don’t know where their marijuana comes from,” he said. “We want to educate them on their marijuana.”