Two More Pot Stores Scheduled To Open In Seattle

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Two more state-licensed marijuana stores are scheduled to open soon in Seattle, but their launches could be muted by supply issues that continue to dog the local retail marijuana industry. The owner of Uncle Ike's Pot Shop, Ian Eisenberg, said his company will start serving customers next week at 23rd and Union. Meanwhile, Oltion Hyseni, the owner of Ocean Greens said his company is preparing for a grand opening on Oct. 18. Because applicants cannot use the state's marijuana tracking software before they're licensed, both businesses plan earlier soft launches to test-drive tracking software and serve customers as they train employees.

Statewide, the Liquor Control Board (LCB) had issued 60 retail licenses by Wednesday, said spokesman Mikhail Carpenter in an email. Five more stores will be licensed pending payment and 16 more applicants are awaiting final inspection. In Seattle, the rollout of legal pot stores has been slowed by unprepared applicants, difficulties for some entrepreneurs in finding legal locations for their stores and issues with city permitting.

Both Eisenberg and Hyseni said a shortage of pot supply is now their biggest obstacle. Eisenberg said he will have a "couple pounds" in his store, but was reticent to publicize an opening date for fear of long lines. "If we don't have anything to sell, we'll have to close the door." Eisenberg expects to be open sometime Tuesday, but wasn't sure what his store's hours would be. Hyseni said he's working to secure product. Without consistent supply, Eisenberg said his "idea of a grand opening is turning on a little neon sign."

The aesthetic of Uncle Ike's remains a work in progress. "A lot of renovations are coming in the next month," Eisenberg said. "We don't even have a sign on the building." Eisenberg said his company has been hustling to open and "making it up as we go along" because he wasn't sure until recently he had an avenue into the state's licensing process. In April, the Liquor Control Board (LCB) held a drawing to determine who could operate Washington's 334 potential pot shops. The LCB randomly chose 21 applicants for Seattle, of the 191 who applied. Eisenberg, an entrepreneur and land owner, sought a license but his top lottery application drew position 120. As a result, Eisenberg entered into a partnership with a lottery winner.

Ocean Greens owner Oltion Hyseni, who won the 20th lottery position, expects to hold a festive grand opening at his location, which is between 92nd and 93rd on Aurora Avenue. Hyseni said he hopes to feature local glass-blowing artists who will make pipes and paraphernalia, something he'd like to do regularly at his store if officials allow it. Ocean Greens features a 1960s-era bar with a modern, contemporary aesthetic, Hyseni said. He will sell vintage lighters and ash trays as well as marijuana-infused edibles.

A real estate agent who emigrated from Albania 14 years ago, Hyseni said he "never pictured in a million years I would own a marijuana recreation store in Seattle when I moved here." "I was raised under (an oppressive) regime," he said. "I'm very happy to be part of Seattle history." Now, Hyseni will focus on the pot business. "I had a great career in real estate, but this is going to be my new career," he said.

Amber McGowan, the manager of Cannabis City, Seattle's first pot store, said she welcomed the new stores. "There's enough demand for the amount of product we have," said McGowan. "I see 600 people a day. If I lose 100 people, it's really just going to open up my inventory." Cannabis City has been limiting customer purchases to two grams per visit. With more stores in the area, she said it might be able to raise that limit.

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