Cannabis Dispensary Design Ideas 2022
Like anything else, there are levels and layers to interior retail cannabis dispensary interior design that aren’t always obvious to your customer, or even your team. But they will usually notice if your store is lacking something, even if they can’t quite put their finger on it. This is when they’ll go shopping somewhere else if it bugs them enough. The psychology behind customer trends and dispensary designs plays heavily into design factors.
To make it simple, I like to think of design layers in terms of getting dressed. Sure, you can throw on pants and a shirt, bun the hair and head out. You’re dressed and you probably look fine. Then there’s getting dressed. Pants & shirt yes, but maybe you also add a great belt, your favorite cardi or wrap and upgrade the shoes. You top it off with a great watch, jewelry and a bag. Don’t forget your tech- phone & air pods. Now you’re complete.
Your dispensary design is the same.
Maybe you opened in a rush.
Maybe your budget didn’t allow for the extra touches you hoped for.
Or, maybe you just weren’t sure how to pull it all together and decided to stay in your comfort zone- messy bun and palm pilot circa 1998.
So let’s talk about a few key areas where you can take your basics to the next level and really complete and polish your design. We’ll assume your dispensary design is already wearing underwear (a layout that works, security, fixtures and finishes) and has the basics. The touches that will take your design to the next level include: Lighting, Art & Accessories and Tech.
Lighting is one of the essential elements of a polished design that is often overlooked or lacking. This may be because you do need to carefully plan your lighting in the early stages of a design. There are four types of lighting in any retail environment: General, Emergency, Task and Decorative.
General lighting is the daily workhorse that is way up in the ceiling and you never look twice at. Recessed cans are a common example. Emergency lighting is the signage and lights that come on in the event of a fire or flood. You can’t pass compliance without emergency lighting and signage.
Task lighting is a light with a specific function to get something done, like bendy reading lights over each budtender station or museum lightning over a featured product card. Task lighting is often overlooked and can also double as decorative lighting.
Decorative lighting is the one most people miss, or misuse the most. This type of lighting is another layer and should not replace the other three types. So if you’ve picked some beautiful pendants over your sensory bar area, yes, you still need general lighting in the same area. Decorative fixtures are there to enhance your design and add a light value to a feature in your dispensary. Pendants over a cash wrap, museum lighting over a featured product, picture lights over an amazing painting. All of these are decorative lighting touches that add a layer of interest, comfort and completion to your space. Decorative lighting does not have to be flashy or glitzy to be impactful. It can be a subtle cove light around and arch, sconces on a column or a simple table lamp on a waiting room table.
When you add this level of detail to your design, you are creating a mood for your store. Is it chill and calm, vibrant and energetic, cool and eclectic? Your decorative lighting choices are a great way to help your customers feel what you are sharing with them. Lighting is a very powerful, and often overlooked element when it comes to design.
Art & Accessories. Check out any published, photographed dispensary and likely it will be fully staged. This is exactly the level of art and accessories you should have within your store. Framed art, sculpture and textiles are so commonly overlooked in dispensaries, especially in the waiting areas. Art also sets the mood, the tone and can also tell your story without words. It can be difficult to pick art for a retail space. I love using art in dispensaries with people in it. Cannabis is a social product by nature, and adding humans to the dispensary in an artistic way seems to lend itself well.
Art and accessories also includes plants and greenery. Remember, you’re selling a plant and the ties back to nature in an interior really connect with the customer, even if they don’t realize it on a conscious level. You don’t have to have a green thumb either. Artificial plants can be just as dramatic as live plants without all the upkeep and light requirements. They add life a grounding, earthy element that is very comforting to your customer. When designing a space, I recommend having something green every 8-10’ when possible. Don’t ignore employee spaces, the waiting room or your exterior.
Wall art does not have to be stagnant either. Check this out. Your possibilities are limitless.
Tech. I feel like we could talk for days on the tech out there- some good, some bad. Just like you wouldn’t leave your house without your phone, you shouldn’t leave your customers or team without advancements that make their shopping and selling experience better. Think beyond the fast food digital menu boards (cringy) and look at what you can do to bring your store directly into your customers hands. Can QR codes enhance the visit with instant info? How about an intuitive software program that can recommend future purchases and links with your branded app? If I place and order with you online, can I pick it up from a secure locker or do I have to stand in line? Does your POS integrate with your marketing plan and your seed to sale tracking? If not, you aren’t fully dressed.
Tech will never replace your budtenders. Their knowledge, caring and personality are what give your brand personality. I think the tech you implement should support your humans and make their jobs more enjoyable. Tech should do the same for your customers experience. Another resource I really love is The Business of Cannabis’ Retail series. They’re based in Canada, but so much applies to what we are doing in the US. Check it out here. Great content on retail dispensaries.
To simplify, you need to layer your dispensary with not just the basics, but finishing touches like Lighting, Art & Accessories and Tech. Paying attention to the details will support your brand, your team and your customer and make the shopping journey one they will want to repeat.