Lacking Essential Status During Pandemic, Colorado Head Shops And CBD Stores Readapt

“When COVID hit, we shifted towards a digital”

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing for nearly nine months now, Colorado’s marijuana industry has thrived with record high sales throughout the year. But weed-adjacent retail businesses, considered non-essential by local and state government, haven’t been as flush.

Smoke shops and CBD stores were among retail businesses that were deemed “non-critical” and forced to close during Colorado’s first stay-at-home phase in March. Marijuana dispensaries remained open during the most restrictive phase of pandemic closures, but both hemp-derived CBD retailers and head shops (many of which sell CBD and hemp products) were only allowed to re-open once the state moved into the “safer-at-home” phase in April. As the pandemic continues, these pot-adjacent operations have been forced to change their business models, which have come mixed experiences and results.

“When COVID hit, we shifted towards a digital marketing strategy to get people to shop online. We’ve made a huge push towards digital, and we were able to stay on top of it,” explains Nicole Berger, marketing director for Purple Haze, a head shop chain with six locations in the metro area. “We’ve beefed up our online drop, and we’ve been working with artists to do virtual events instead of in-person events like we would normally do, and that’s driven our sales.”

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