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Legal bud is big bucks — $12M — for Housing Works in store’s first half year

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | After six months of operation, Housing Works Cannabis Co, the state’s first legal, adult-use cannabis dispensary, reports that it has raked in $12 million in sales.

The nonprofit legal weed outlet, at 750 Broadway, between Astor Place and Eighth Street, received New York State’s first license for a Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary, or CAURD. To be eligible for a CAURD license, either the applicant must be so-called justice involved in some way (having interaction with the criminal justice system), or be a qualifying nonprofit — having a history of aiding formerly incarcerated individuals.

According to a press release, Housing Works Cannabis Co has directed millions of dollars in pot proceeds toward some of New York City’s most urgent community needs. As part of parent organization Housing Works, the dispensary’s sales proceeds go directly to helping New Yorkers with healthcare, housing, job training, harm reduction, case management, advocacy for health equity and social justice initiatives, LGBTQ+ youth programs and sexual health services.

“Our goal, going back over 30 years ago through Housing Works, has been to empower New Yorkers through advocacy and bridge communities to life-saving services,” said Sasha Nutgent, the reefer retailer’s manager. “From the resources we’ve rolled out, to the brands we carefully select for our customers, everything we do here has a greater purpose and we’re humbled to see the support our mission is receiving.”

Within three hours of opening last Dec. 29, the cannabis company saw an estimated $40,000 in sales — grossing more than $1.6 million in the first month of operation. The shop’s business continues to be strong, with as many as 1,000 unique visitors on busy days.

According to the press release, “Consumer trend insights from the Housing Works Cannabis Co team show that customers continue to make decisions based on potency, reflecting a need for more education on cannabis and its numerous uses. New Yorkers and tourists alike also tend to prefer sativa and sativa-leaning hybrid strains, with flower [loose marijuana] representing the top-selling product category. In addition, the team also found that those who come in seeking edibles typically look for products that promote sleep and mitigate anxiety.”

More recently, the dispensary added 200 new products to its menu, bringing more options from queer-, BIPOC- and women-owned and led companies into the store for customers to discover. Housing Works Cannabis Co currently carries seven “social-equity brands,” with more coming soon.

“One unforeseen challenge and a pain point for both retailers and customers has been product rollout,” Nutgent noted. “There have been major improvements with the state’s product-testing timeline, for example; but the feedback we still hear from some Black-owned brands is that there is not enough funding to get their products into the market.”

Last month, Housing Works Cannabis Co introduced its first Black-owned brand, Brelixi —which is also woman- and queer-owned—onto its shelves. Other social-equity brands include Fat Nell (women-led), The Weekenders (BIPOC-owned and -led), as well as Flamer and Drew Martin (queer-owned).

In addition, Housing Works Cannabis Co is the state’s first legal ganja delivery service. Handled fully in-house — benefiting from Housing Works’ 30-plus years’ experience through its thrift furniture donation and pick-up program — deliveries currently account for about 5 percent to 7 percent of sales.

Available in select ZIP codes in ManhattanBrooklyn and Queens, anyone over the age of 21 with a valid ID can get same-day and next-day delivery directly through Housing Works Cannabis Co’s Web site.

“We’ve seen our delivery programs over the years forge meaningful and trusting relationships between our staff and thrift store patrons,” said Charles King, Housing Works C.E.O. “To see the same positive dynamic emerge between customers and budtenders reflects our roots in the city, our deep understanding of New York City culture and the community trust we continue to nurture.”

Housing Works Cannabis Co was founded last year as an extension of Housing Works’ established retail outlets — which include several thrift store locations and a bookstore in Soho. Proceeds from Housing Works Cannabis Co go directly to parent organization Housing Works’ services and advocacy. Founded 30 years ago, Housing Works provides housing, healthcare and other services to New Yorkers affected by AIDS, homelessness, substance abuse and criminal-justice system involvement. According to Housing Works Cannabis Co, the new dispensary also “models the positive role cannabis can play in our communities.”

One Comment

  1. Dal Dal July 31, 2023

    Glad to see that an organization that does so much good is thriving. Even more commendable how they support Black and LGTBQIA+ businesses owners.

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