Stoners’ Followup

It’s been two weeks since the launch of the inaugural Stoners’ Atlas, and the time has given me a chance to reflect on the process, product and results. Below is a bit of a recap for the Atlas.

The Results:

The inaugural Atlas included specials from 38 different cannabis companies from around the state. Taking into account the fact that many participating companies have multiple locations, the Atlas included specials from right at 100 retail locations spread throughout 40 towns across Montana.

I consider all of these numbers successes and view them as the new benchmarks by which I will gauge subsequent editions. I didn’t set goals heading into this project, so I can’t honestly say that my goals were exceeded. I can, however, say definitively that it exceeded my expectations. If someone had told me a month ago when I decided to create the Stoners’ Atlas, these would’ve been the results, I would’ve been skeptical. That being said, I’m very proud of the first edition of the Atlas and look forward to the editions to come.

What I Learned:

Consumers were very excited to be able to find specials for multiple companies in the same place. I fielded many comments on various threads and places where the Atlas was posted. The overwhelming sentiment was one of gratitude and excitement. I think in the first edition, we were able to prove both proof-of-concept as well as proof-of-demand. Stoners want and deserve things like the Atlas, and the entire industry stands to benefit from coming together. The saying is that there is strength in numbers, and I think the warm reception of the Atlas is proof of that. Bringing cannabis companies together can benefit everyone.

The cannabis industry stands to benefit from cohesion. As a guy who spent nearly a decade in the craft beer world, I now see plainly that I took the organization of craft beer for granted. I can see now how much craft beer benefitted and continues to benefit from affiliations and trade organizations when raising awareness for industry events. Organizations like the Craft Beer Alliance, Craft Brewers Guild, as well as local beer organizations all play an integral role in helping to drive awareness to consumers in the world of beer. To put it shortly, I think something like the Atlas that brings the industry together in one place can be a great resource for both consumers and business owners in the long run.

In the name of honesty and transparency, the reception was not all warm. I expected and received criticism and complaints on the first edition. Before getting into details of complaints, I’d like to go on the record as saying that I 100% welcome all constructive criticism and I really appreciate the opportunity to improve the Atlas through your suggestions and recommendations. This is a project that I’m committed to making the best it can be, and in my experience, very few things ever improve without dialogue and being willing to acknowledge a project or product’s shortcomings. Please give me feedback. While I proudly serve as the creator and editor of the Atlas, I enjoy learning about how to improve and grow for the next edition.

Of the complaints voiced, many were outside of my control but fortunately can be easily resolved. They’re valid complaints and welcomed critiques. I am taking them under advisement and will work diligently to resolve the issues before the next edition. Thank you to those that have already commented and reached out.

I saw some complaints in regards to certain shops not being on this list. While I admittedly could’ve done more in the way of outreach, marketing and what-not, I did the best I could with this first edition. It’s a valid complaint to not see your favorite dispensary on the list. I did, however, get the word out the best I could through the channels available to me. I also should reiterate that this list was 100% free to be part of. All shops had to do was take 5-10 minutes to fill out a google form.

I also should say that I reached out to many more shops than ended up on the list. I put in phone calls, emails and DMs to companies all over the state. While disappointing to not have those businesses listed, I can completely understand this from a business owner’s standpoint. If some strange dude shows up in your inbox or calls your shop one day talking about a “Stoners’ Atlas,” I think you’re well within your right to be skeptical and not get back to me. It’s also fair to think that a small business owner has better things to do sometimes than to return a call or an email, so there are no hard feelings on my end for anyone who didn’t get back to me or reach out.

Ultimately, I’ll take the “L” on this problem and will spend the next year building my email list and network of shops. Any omission from the list was unintentional. The Stoners’ Atlas has never and will never be exclusionary. My goal is to have every cannabis company in Big Sky Country on the list that wants to be on it.

I hope that with the success of the first edition, next year will be a much easier conversation to have with potential participants and they’ll understand much better the intent and composition of the Atlas. I hope that this year’s non-participants were able to see the reach and level of excitement that surrounded the Atlas.

I do however, want to apologize to a few shops that got in touch with me that were upset about not being on the list once they saw it circulating. I tried my best to make it available to everyone and to raise awareness, but there were some business owners who I wasn’t able to put in the loop this year. I was also very clear on my posts of the deadline to submit. I intentionally set the deadline to leave me enough time to adequately and accurately organize the information before publication.

Upon discussion, I think that for next year’s edition I am going to eliminate the hard publication date and instead opt to make the list readily accessible earlier and to add specials as I receive them. The only conceivable problem with this issue is that many shops didn’t know their specials and celebration plans until very late. I had many conversations with dispensary managers and shop owners the week before the holiday that still didn’t have any concrete plans or specials to pass along. To have the Stoners’ Atlas meet its true potential would necessitate a bit more forethought on dispensaries’ part.

Another complaint I fielded was in regards to the clarity on deals. Some of these complaints were in regards to door-busters and early bird deals that had limits, while others were in regard to minimum purchase requirements to activate deals. To this end, I tried my best on my google form for participants to iterate the importance of clarity and specifics. I look at the creation of the Atlas from the perspective of the audience, and I think we all agree that we appreciated the companies that were highly specific on what was on sale and for how much. I will try my best for future iterations of the Atlas to tweak my form to collect information more effectively and to encourage participating shops to give as much information as possible.

In Conclusion:

In summary, the major problems with this first edition were missing shops and consumers’ desire for more details from participating dispensaries. I will spend the next year working to resolve these issues.

Thank you so much for your interest and/or participation in this year’s Atlas. I hope that you’ll continue to help it grow, evolve and improve moving forward.

As far as plans in the interim: I will be taking the time to create a permanent home for the Stoners’s Atlas on my website. The permanent Stoners’ Atlas will function as a dispensary directory that I hope will include every shop in the state as well as information like their daily/weekly specials. I also envision the permanent edition to serve as a guide to consumers both new and seasoned to help guide their cannabis experiences in Big Sky Country. I also foresee it playing an integral role as a resource for tourists and visitors who want to make cannabis part of their adventures and journeys in Montana. I just began work on a 710 field guide, so please keep an eye out. Expect improvements and a continuous evolution of the Stoners’ Atlas as well as an increase in the volume of information made available to the cannabis community.

This project was born from a genuine respect for cannabis, the cannabis industry and the cannabis community. The work of the Stoners’ Atlas is one I take seriously and as a passion project. The Atlas will always be free to both businesses and consumers alike. All I ask, is that if you’re ever thinking about buying or selling a cannabis business or real estate that you keep me and my team, The Joint Committee, in mind.

Peace, love, and cannabis. – The Dude

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