Lower prices encourage business at Cannabis Central

Zac Hereth, Contributing Writer

After 29 years in the car sales business, Rob Hendrix applied for a marijuana retailer’s license, along with his wife Diane Hendrix, in December of 2013. This led to the opening of Cannabis Central, then known as Ellensburg Apothecary, in August of last year.

The idea came from Diane Hendrix’s bosses at Weaver Flower in Moxee after the couple figured out their retirement plans weren’t going to last.

“Frankly, our retirement plans, savings plans, were going to fall up short,” Rob Hendrix said. “If we were an airplane heading to the airport and retirement was the airport, we we’re gonna pancake about five-miles short.”

The couple applied for their retailer’s license, becoming eligible for the lottery which would determine who would get the rights to be a producer, processor or retailer.

The Hendrixs went through a thorough vetting process and had to show the state where every dollar being invested into the business came from. Every penny had to be accounted for.

Even an explanation for accumulated interest in their savings account had to be properly shown.

No out-of-state investors are allowed. Rob Hendrix’s son-in-law, who owns a home in Ellensburg but isn’t a Washington resident, wanted to invest but couldn’t because of his out-of-state residency.

Besides the money invested, Hendrix said there was a plethora of paperwork and legal hurdles to jump.

Some of these included getting background checks, proof of a security system and getting their location approved by the city.

Cannabis Central originally opened its doors under the name Ellensburg Apothecary, a name Hendrix said the liquor control board never had a problem with.  However, someone in the Ellensburg community did have a problem with it.

Rob Hendrix received a call asking if they had a pharmacist on hand, he said they didn’t. It was later ruled that the name implied the medical use of marijuana and had to be changed.

Rob Hendrix said it cost close to $2,500 to change the name, which had been with the company for close to a year.

Opening in August of last year, Cannabis Central brought in $319,050 in total sales by year’s end, an average of $63,810 a month, and bringing in an average of $15,952.50 a month in excise taxes to the state.

Prices have continued to drop since the opening, which is helping business, Hendrix said.

Those numbers are from February, $121,616 was earned during the shortest month of the year alone, over one-third of what Cannabis Central sold over five months last year. This also generated $30,404 in excise taxes.

“There are people going in and out of there all day, every day,” said Nicole Crosset, manager at Cannabis Central’s neighbor, the Red Horse Diner. Hendrix rents his space from Crosset’s father, Bruce Crosset, owner of both buildings.

At opening, single-gram prices were reported at $32 per gram according to The Daily Record. Now prices are as low as $10 a gram.

“We’re definitely doing more business,” said Hendrix. “As the prices come down, our total number of transactions has gone up.”

Even though there is constant business at the shop, Hendrix said that under current taxation laws the business is nowhere near as profitable as most believe.
That’s why March 5 he was in Olympia discussing taxation reform with the state legislator.

Hendrix said the legislature is trying to pass reforms which would stop revenue generated from excise tax from being taxed, as it is in the current model.

Cannabis Central currently carries 20 to 25 different strains of marijuana on average. Their product comes from sources all over the state.

Different strains vary by day as most products don’t stay on the shelf over two weeks. With only 226 square-feet of space the store doesn’t have a lot of room for storage.

Hendrix attributes the ability to get a different variety of products in smaller quantities from different places to Cannabis Central’s location.

“The neat thing about being where we are is that if anybody is gotta go anywhere in the state, they have to go by me,” Hendrix said.