Metro Detroit marijuana aficionados are in for a new experience when Gage Cannabis Co. opens its doors to the public at the end of the month.
The nascent cannabis company recently wrapped up construction of its first flagship store in Ferndale, transforming a warehouse in the industrial part of town into what looks like from the outside like it could be a big-box retail store. Inside, everything feels hip and high-end: Guests are greeted by a street art-style selfie wall, a refrigerator with free water bottles emblazoned with Gage’s bright orange logo, and a reception desk and waiting room with sleek couches and chairs. Even the name, “Gage,” is jazz-era slang for pot, explains Donnell Cravens, the regional retail manager for the brand.
“I’ve been to countless other dispensaries in the area, and you do often get an almost uninviting vibe,” says Cravens, who previously worked as the general manager for Detroit’s Utopia Gardens provisioning center. “That’s what the initial intake area here is supposed to be — a welcoming landing place, [someplace] that you would feel comfortable sending your mother or whoever.”
Beyond the reception desk is Gage’s main retail floor, what Cravens describes as a “store within a store.” The retail floor is clean, with bright colors and electronic dance music thumping in the background. Unlike other provisioning centers, Gage’s products aren’t behind a jewelry store-style glass case. Instead, there are hexagonal tables topped with jars containing strain samples, which customers can inspect up close — the jars even come with magnifying lenses and holes built into the lids for a sniff sample — and there are informational cards at hand with the strains’ THC levels and terpene profiles.
Like some other marijuana provisioning centers, Gage is moving to destigmatize the marijuana shopping experience in other ways, too. For one, they’re eschewing the term “budtender” for “product specialists,” who are paired with shoppers for a one-on-one experience. The product specialist takes the shoppers’ order on the floor, and at the end escorts the customer to a large cashier counter in the back to pick up the products and cash out. In the end,…