Rough counters made of planks salvaged from an old barn near Lynden, wide open space to roam about, and on the floor, spelled out in fat, white letters, the chemical formula for THC.
And of course, inside those counters, product, lots of product: marijuana of all sorts, smokables, munchables, drinkables, hard stuff to stone a body, softer stuff to put it in a smooth and mellow mood.
Everything after the high standards of the joint’s three taskmasters, Eric Gaston, Arnie Nelson and Jeff Anderson, also known as owners of The Evergreen Market. Auburn’s second retail marijuana store opened at 9 a.m. Tuesday at 402 16th St. NE, behind Taco Bell, across from the Iron Horse Casino.
“From the beginning, our intent was to create a retail space our friends and family could be proud of,” Gaston explained. “So much of the industry has been marginalized for so long that a lot of the stores have a look and feel that almost apologizes for being what they are instead of celebrating the industry.
“We wanted to create a place where people could come and shop for marijuana in an environment that celebrates the industry, and that has really resonated with our customer base at our store in Renton,” Gaston added.
Three years ago, the three men flew to Colorado to check out that state’s retail marijuana industry, study product placement, even pick up a few design pointers.
Out of that expedition came a feature, Gaston said, that sets The Evergreen Market apart from other stores: its organization into departments. A metal cutout that depicts the product in question hangs above each department: edibles department; flower department; concentrate department; paraphernalia department.
Gaston said the idea behind this feature is to avoid gobsmacking customers with too much stuff at one time, but instead to allow them to focus on what interests them at the moment and to move on when they choose to.
Or customers and vendors may sit on metal stools and belly up to the knowledge bar, give the goods a thorough eye-balling under a magnifying glass with a big swinging light, study brochures. This feature is all about educating folk as to what vendors do and how they do it.
“We’re careful about curating product only from people who have a passion for what they do; it’s not just about money for us,” Gaston said. “Our customers can come in and not spend a dime, just spend time at the bar and talk about cannabis as long as they want. Our customers aren’t just wallets; they’re people who care about the industry.”
None of the owners are newbies to the business, having opened their flagship store and the Auburn location’s namesake in Renton in April 2014. Gaston himself is a former attorney.
Nelson said the Auburn store is “90 percent similar” in appearance to its forebear in Renton, the only changes being those enforced by the configuration of the new locale.
According to a story that appeared in the Renton Reporter to mark the opening of the Renton store, it, too, is graced by a large wooden “library,” complete with a rolling ladder behind what looks like a bar.
“The brands will be the same,” Nelson said. “And just like there, the focus will be on education and experience. We have a very large space so that people can have a very positive and open shopping experience in a beautiful environment with well trained and experienced sales people.”
As Nelson told the Renton Reporter, he and his co-owners are an interesting mix that helps drive the shop and its philosophy: “celebrate, educate and elevate.”
“I think it will be the most beautiful cannabis store in the state, and state-of-the-art in cannabis sales in Washington,” Nelson said.
Store hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, visit theevergreenmarket.com.