After much anticipation, the first of three recently approved cannabis storefronts is finally open in Farmersville, and business is booming.
By the time Token Farms opened its doors, a line of hundreds of eager customers already stretched off the property and past neighboring businesses.
“It’s great. It’s a huge line,” said Token’s owner Jennifer Mendonca. “Hopefully, we can get them all in.”
With only 10 customers allowed in the showroom at a time, the wait to get inside was well over an hour, yet a carnival-like atmosphere prevailed as the line moved forward.
Perhaps it was the range of cannabis flowers, oils, tinctures and edibles waiting inside that kept spirits high.
One Open, Two to Follow
While Token Farms offers essentially the same range of products available at other cannabis stores, the way those products are displayed is different, with customers able to make their selections without a budtender standing by. Samples of the various strains of cannabis flowers are presented in small containers that allow buyers to closely inspect them visually as well as by their scent.
“What we think defines us is our layout,” Mendonca said. “It’s laid out for users by a user.”
Tulare County’s only other
recreational cannabis salespoint, Valley Pure in Woodlake, displays its wares behind glass counters.
Currently, Token Farms is the only operating cannabis business in Farmersville, but that won’t be true for long. Just two doors down, a
second location of Valley Pure is putting the finishing touches on its Farmersville storefront. That shop should be open by mid-November. A third store–Platinum Exchange–has been granted a license by the Farmerville City Council but has not yet announced an opening date.
While the crowd was mellow, both armed security guards and members of the Farmersville Police Department were on hand for Token Farms’ opening day event. FPD officers reported “nothing too crazy” in the behavior of customers and they foresee no problems being generated by the new businesses.
“As long as it’s kept professional,” said FPD officer Teresa Moore. “Even Woodlake has one, and they’re not having any problems.”
In fact, tax revenue generated by Valley Pure in Woodlake has helped augment that city’s police force, allowing the Woodlake City Council to provide them with additional equipment and other resources.
Valley Pure Coming to Lindsay
While most of those who turned out for the opening of Token Farms were there to buy, some came just to see the operation in action. Among them was Lindsay City Councilwoman Yolanda Flores. Lindsay recently granted Valley Pure a license to open a storefront in the former Sierra View Mall.
“I wanted to see what it looked like,” Flores said.
Valley Pure’s Lindsay location should be open no later than January, according to Flores.
“They told us December, but I don’t think so,” she said.
While Lindsay had resisted the trend of allowing legal cannabis sales inside its city limits, Flores said it was a desire to undermine the illicit drug trade that motivated her to give approval for pot sales.
“I wanted a cannabis business that was regulated,” she said. “I was tired of seeing people selling out of cars and bikes.”
Flores also expressed concerns about the purity of blackmarket cannabis, saying licensing a trusted business would alleviate that fear.
Seeing How It Goes
Token Farms did not apply for a license to operate in Lindsay, nor has Mendonca attempted to expand her business to any of the other Valley cities now welcoming cannabis enterprises.
“Just this one, until we see how it goes,” she said.
After spending two years operating Token Farms as a delivery service, Mendonca also felt a need to play fair with other entrepreneurs looking to enter the lucrative cannabis market.
“We didn’t want to inhale all those licenses and not use them,” she said.
Sales tax revenue isn’t the only impetus driving cities to embrace the newly legal cannabis industry. The storefronts are also bringing much needed jobs. Token Farms, Mendonca said, has already hired 17 employees.
Kenny Molina, a Visalia resident and one of the first customers to make a purchase at Token Farms’ opening day, was pleased with the experience and the product he purchased.
“It’s pretty nice,” he said.
While Farmersville’s cannabis district, located near the Highway 198 exit in the city’s industrial zone, is more convenient for Molina than traveling to Woodlake, he’d like to see Visalia give its OK to recreational cannabis sales.
“It’s good for the economy,” he said. “I think Visalia should do it. It’s better than drinking. It keeps people calm.”