Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times
                                Budtender Tyler Small arranges a display behind a window in Island Herb. The Freeland cannabis store experienced record-breaking sales in March.

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times Budtender Tyler Small arranges a display behind a window in Island Herb. The Freeland cannabis store experienced record-breaking sales in March.

Pot shops see green

State data shows that Island County cannabis dispensaries have had an increase in sales, a trend which managers at Whidbey stores can confirm.

While state data is only available through February or March 2020 for many dispensaries, General Manager Eric Wing of Island Herb said the upward trend of a year-to-year increase continued into April and May for his store.

But March was a record-breaking month for the Freeland pot shop, with state data reporting $217,189 in sales, a 30 percent increase from March 2019.

“As more and more restrictions were put in place, we definitely saw a really big spike in business,” Wing said about Island Herb’s busiest month of operation since its April 2016 opening.

Wing credits the increase in sales for the month of March to worries that cannabis shops may not be considered essential, leading to an uptick in panic buying.

North Whidbey dispensaries may not have experienced such a dramatic growth in sales, but they also experienced an upwards trend.

Kaleafa Cannabis Co. in Oak Harbor had $148,885 in sales in March 2019, with $169,875 for March 2020, about a 14 percent increase year to year.

Manager Sean Albano said he has seen more “first timers” in the store, looking for something to do while stuck at home. The stay-at-home order helped to draw in recreational users looking for a fix to their boredom.

Wing agreed that more products have been bought while people stayed home. Some people have been looking to cannabis for other uses, such as providing a calming effect.

“(With May) being Mental Health Awareness, we’ve been trying to focus on that as well,” he said.

Wing added that Island Herb had a 23 percent increase in April 2020 compared to the same month last year, and May has had a 20 percent increase.

In keeping with social distancing guidelines, employees have been limiting the number of people who can come into the store.

Masks and gloves are provided for employees but are not required. Display cases have helped form a natural barrier.

Albano said there have been similar procedures at Kaleafa Cannabis Company. Customers have been restricted from touching products until they purchase them.

“Not every business has been suffering,” Albano said.

“This one has definitely been doing okay, from everything I’ve read and seen. I’m just glad we’re able to be essential.”

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times
                                Budtender Tyler Small helps a customer with a purchase at Island Herb.

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times Budtender Tyler Small helps a customer with a purchase at Island Herb.

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times Budtender Tyler Small helps a customer with a purchase at Island Herb.

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times Budtender Tyler Small helps a customer with a purchase at Island Herb.

Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times Budtender Tyler Small helps a customer with a purchase at Island Herb.

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