Usually, the desert Southwest isn’t known for being a trendsetter, but right now, it’s leading the way in all-night cannabis shops. Las Vegas and Phoenix’s popular daytime and nightclub destinations are transferring their serious attitude toward fun to the cannabis sector. Guadalupe, a little town in Arizona bordering Phoenix less than one square mile in size, has followed Las Vegas’ lead by allowing customers to buy marijuana after midnight.
The change reflects the enjoyable, recreational nature of cannabis and makes sense in the appropriate market. Perceptions can swiftly shift as marijuana becomes more accepted and normalized in society.
According to Scanlon, a senior insights analyst with Chicago-based market research firm Brightfield Group, “If you’re out late at night, you will anticipate an item like cannabis to be for sale, just like you would be able to go into a bar and acquire anything to drink.”
The expansion of local economies and enterprises has been a primary motivator for early adopters. Guadalupe, formally incorporated in 1975, is attempting to reverse decades of economic blight and government mismanagement to support its small community of fewer than 6,000 residents, a mix of Mexican descendants and members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. They have lived on the land for a century.
These uncommon retail exemptions have given a select group of cannabis merchants in the Southwest the opportunity to attract customers, cultivate customer loyalty, and legitimize legal late-night marijuana sales long after the majority of traditional retailers and rivals have shut their doors.
Most states, like California and Illinois, forbid retail cannabis businesses from operating after 10 p.m. These businesses, like Arizona and Washington, are still uncommon in states that permit them.
Geographical circumstances, a free-market attitude, and cultural acceptance have also been important factors for those that stay open until the wee hours.
Las Vegas is leading the late-night charge, remaining true to its 24-hour entertainment origins. Dozens of after-midnight stores pop up following a simple Yelp search. The biggest of them is Planet 13, located off the renowned Las Vegas Strip. Since it opened four years ago, the massive 112,000-square-foot megastore, roughly the size of an average Target, has been open twenty-four hours a day.
The retailer benefits from a steady stream of tourists and a continuous stream of locals in the area, including convention goers, concertgoers, casino patrons, sports fans, and late-night shift workers who expect services whenever they need them. Additionally, it is close to dozens of bars and nightclubs, hundreds of restaurants, and adult entertainment businesses.
The Guadalupe location of Arizona-based Mint Cannabis, said to be the first outside of Las Vegas to allow retail after midnight, began offering overnight sales last month. In Guadalupe, lines snaked around the 5,000-square-foot facility, the biggest in Arizona, and down the street, dodging into the nearby hotel parking lot on October 13, the first night of late-night shopping.
Mint generated $39,000 in transactions from 8 a.m. until midnight, more than double Molina’s target of $16,000. Since then, the store’s graveyard shift sales on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays average roughly $6,000. None of the other 120 marijuana sellers in the state can claim an income of approximately $70,000 per month. Mint shuts at midnight for the remainder of the week.
Not Quite Lost In The Desert
There are other advantages to the retailer’s Guadalupe location. The hamlet is tucked between the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix and Tempe, home to Arizona State University, one of the biggest college campuses in the country. There are additional significant similarities between the Phoenix and Las Vegas markets besides sprawl, temperature, and topography. Within a 30-minute commute, their freeways allow millions of customers to visit cannabis retailers.
The young adult consumer base is strong in both areas, and many late-night entertainment alternatives are available. According to Molina, the busiest hours at Mint are between 2 and 3:30 in the morning. All the bars are closing, and the service workers are picking up goods.
It also helps that metro Phoenix is a thriving tourism destination, bringing in millions of visitors each year for major college football bowl games, big golf tournaments, recognized national and state parks, Scottsdale’s nightlife, and shopping.
According to new instructions from New York regulators, marijuana shops could stay open until midnight or even later with the written consent of the local towns. Given its power, the global financial and cultural center might influence changes in other markets. But it’s too soon to say whether late-night dispensaries will become more popular nationwide.
The health risks of cannabis are significantly lower than that of alcohol and tobacco. Despite the uncertainty of late-night dispensaries, they should be as common as walking into a bar for a drink or buying a pack of cigarettes.
A thriving late-night nightlife culture in metro Phoenix and Las Vegas might support overnight cannabis retail, but similar dynamics don’t exist in most markets. Many consumers will find it advantageous to purchase it after hours in many locations, while others would not.
Vegas makes a lot of sense to have 24-hour dispensaries, and they’ll undoubtedly be able to keep them manned and operating overnight. Being in the West, they can accelerate and do things other East Coast and Midwest markets have yet to be able to do. But probably not in the middle of Michigan.
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