Of course, plenty of work went on before we were awarded a dispensary license, but the real work began the day we got the license.
Last year, the week of Thanksgiving, we were in Mexico City. Walking with friends into an Adidas store, I got a call from Roy Castro, the co-chair of Strive, our partner in Gotham, shouting in the phone that we got the license. After hanging up, I stood outside the store and savored the moment before calling Fred and Alex (my chief of everything). Alex has been at my side through over a hundred plus investments, multiple residential build-outs (personal and business), a small quasi-hotel, the women’s entrepreneur festival, and much more. What a year we were about to have.
The one thing that I have learned after my involvement in so many start-ups is the first year is critical. Do not hesitate once you made a decision. Waiting costs time and money. You are on a race to get to the place where things are humming. It is like climbing a mountain. The first mesa is a bit disorganized, but eventually, everyone packs their bags to get to the next mesa, where there is some structure.
Cannabis is not like anything I have ever been involved with. The legal documents alone around this store are mind-boggling. Besides being a regulated drug (of choice), the industry is nascent in NY, where we have witnessed and been involved in the ever-changing landscape. Who would have thought that our competition would be thousands of illegal dispensaries?
We built the store and opened for business in less than six months. The case lines alone were a time suck. We hope it won’t take as long on the next go-round if we are awarded more licenses. Our top executives didn’t make it through the year, although they were good until they weren’t. The Gotham line had a hard reboot, too. Mistakes have been made, and success stories have been made.
We now have an executive team of 12 people and over fifty working in the store. This includes delivery, cannabis growers’ showcases, inventory oversight, Gotham goods, Gotham merchandise, marketing, events, an eye toward new stores, and global domination (I had to say it).
It has been quite the year. It’s not always seamless or easy, but it has been fun. We have incredible people working throughout the store who are enjoying the journey. Our turnover in the store has been beyond low. Everyone who works full-time has full healthcare without buying into the system, and I am very proud of that. We have promoted from within, giving new opportunities to our team. We have created a strong brand that resonates with customers who continue to come back repeatedly.
The year ahead should be even crazier, but the systems are in place, the vision is there, the team is ready, and here we go. So many stories to tell, one day, perhaps, a book.