The 1-2-3s of Designing the Dream Dispensary Interior


Keeping a dispensary’s design compliant while simultaneously maintaining alignment with a specific vision can be a time-consuming balancing act. This can be especially true when it comes to designing product displays and shelving. Merchandising—or the arrangement of products within a retail space—can dramatically impact a dispensary’s bottom line.

In addition to all the other intricacies of dispensary management, now operators also must navigate COVID-19, a virus that has caused drastic changes across every industry nationwide. Because cannabis businesses were declared “essential” early in the pandemic, some companies discovered an expedited need to open shop doors—not only to draw in revenue, but also to serve an expanding consumer base desperately in need of relief from pandemic-caused distress.


“Imagine working tirelessly, getting a license to operate your dispensary, curating the perfect product mix, and landing the ideal location, only to find out the only place to get displays really quickly is Ikea,” said Wil Walker, vice president of client experience at Display Dispensary. “Many operators find themselves in this predicament.”

To serve that need, Display Dispensary launched Dispensary 1-2-3, a turnkey system that provides everything needed to take a dispensary’s salesfloor from blank canvas to merchandise-ready quickly and at an affordable price.

“During the height of the pandemic, we saw an uptick in new dispensaries across the country,” Walker said. “Speed-to-market was the consistent message from our clients. If a client came to us with four weeks or four months to open, we needed a solution for both and everything in between. This was the motivation for Dispensary 1-2-3: providing options for rapid deployment that look fresh and allow for seamless operation without hiccups.”


Although rapid deployment is important, Walker said speed is only half the appeal of Dispensary 1-2-3. The other half—salesfloor design—is equally crucial to a project’s success. Though the system may be modular, there is nothing “cookie cutter” about finished projects. To ensure client satisfaction, Display Dispensary’s process takes a holistic and collaborative approach from the start. To begin, the company’s industrial designer develops a three-dimensional model that then is evaluated by staff engineers. The process allows everyone on the team to provide input that helps determine the most effective and aesthetically pleasing way to meet the client’s needs and desires. Clients see exactly what they will receive and can determine whether the proposal suits their brand and vibe.

“Display Dispensary’s dedicated team will make sure the design functions in the exact manner the client intends,” Walker said, adding the program’s built-in flexibility allows operators to customize some components. Customization may add a little time to the project, but recent clients found the short wait for elements including lit signage, wall treatments, and customized cash stands worthwhile. “A dispensary operator could go as far as customizing an entire display setup to create a unique experience that truly tells the story of the brand’s DNA,” Walker said.

Another issue Dispensary 1-2-3 alleviates is cost, said Walker. Customized solutions typically carry a high price tag, as do fixtures that must meet exacting finish-out deadlines. Under pressure to open quickly in order to recoup investment while still maintaining the brand’s mission and aesthetic, operators sometimes feel trapped into spending more than they intended. But Dispensary 1-2-3 was created with affordability in mind.

“Not only will operators save money with Dispensary 1-2-3, but they’ll also save time,” Walker said. “Our ultimate goal is to create a true turnkey solution. It’s a modular approach to building out your space, and we do the work for the operator. Provide us with critical details about your space, and we will lay it out for you and manage the project from A to Z.”

Margins in cannabis are tight; a fine line exists between profitability and red ink. Dispensary 1-2-3 can help maintain a healthy balance sheet even for well-established shops, according to Walker.


“Successful dispensaries benefit even more than startups from Dispensary 1-2-3,” he said. “We take all the data and digest it—the pain points as well as the successes. We use that critical information to lay a foundation that will enhance the space. Maybe you need only a better way to display concentrates, or you might need an upgrade to your showcase quality. Whatever is needed, we can plug those holes. Dispensary 1-2-3 has something for everyone.”

Displays enable more than just strategic product placement. They also can help create a particular atmosphere, something that likely will boost profits not only by supporting branding but also by creating an environment in which consumers enjoy shopping.

“The right display goes a long way in creating the desired vibe, and that vibe should be aligned with the dispensary’s brand,” Walker said. “As more players enter the space, it will become imperative to capture brand loyalty.”

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