The new Springfield location incorporates many of the attributes that Director of Retail David Brodsky says sets the company apart in the state: a focus on retail paired with robust branding and a wide selection of products.
The Farmer’s Wife is locally owned by a group from Southwest Missouri, with its two other retail locations in Mountain Grove and West Plains. Brodsky spent the last decade working in the cannabis industry in California and Colorado before returning home to Missouri shortly after the state legalized medical cannabis in 2018.
One of the company’s owners previously worked in the pharmaceutical market and wanted to enter the cannabis industry to provide an alternative form of relief to patients, Brodsky says.
The Farmer’s Wife submitted its licensing applications in 2019 and ultimately won three retail licenses in early 2020, with its first dispensary opening on 4/20 of this year.
“We made the decision to focus on the retail side of things and stay focused on that and not get stretched too thin,” Brodsky says, adding that the company concentrated its operations around Springfield, one of the largest cities in the state.
The Farmer’s Wife applied for five total dispensary licenses and is currently appealing the two that it did not receive in a process that Brodsky says could take up to a year. If the company ultimately wins the two additional licenses, it will open a second retail location in Springfield, as well as one in Oliver.
While Missouri is a limited-license state, with 60 cultivation, 86 manufacturing and 192 retail licenses available, the state is less restrictive than other markets with license caps, Brodsky says. Although, as in other new markets, supply issues have plagued Missouri’s businesses, he says.
When the state’s first dispensaries opened their doors to patients last October, Brodsky says “it was pretty slim pickings” for patients until this past spring.
“It was hard to find product,” he says of those early days. “There wasn’t a lot of variety, there weren’t a lot of processors online, there weren’t a lot of growers that were approved to operate and all that. But that has very quickly changed. … Even though we are a limited-license state, there are still a lot of licenses. We get a new call it seems like every week, talking to a new grower or a new manufacturer looking for a home for their products.”
To overcome these challenges, The Farmer’s Wife team did its due diligence and formed relationships with growers and processors early on, well before many operators were up and running. The company had several contracts in place prior to opening its doors, which helped it procure not only an adequate supply of product, but also a wide variety of products.
“We constantly have patients come in that say that we have the best selection out of any of the stores in the area,” Brodsky says. “And it’s not that we have the most because there are a couple dispensaries here that have 40 strains of flower on their shelf. But we have done a lot of due diligence to make sure that we have the best products possible at every different price point. If you have a budget-minded consumer or if you have someone who just wants the best of the best, … we have the best products available for those folks at all those price points.”
Now that Missouri is approaching its one-year anniversary of medical cannabis sales, Brodsky says he is most excited to see how the market continues to develop.
“Every state that I’ve worked in developed differently,” he says. “Every state’s unique and has a different set of rules and different players, so it’s fun and exciting to just see things develop in general for the industry. But I think what I’m most excited about is to see what’s happening for the patients with the quality … and the variety of products that are being put out there in the state of Missouri. We’re already starting to see pricing pressure, so that will make things more affordable.”
As in every brand-new cannabis market, many patients in Missouri have never taken edibles or concentrates, and some have never seen a vape pen. “Flower is definitely king right now,” Brodsky says, especially at the company’s more rural locations, where flower accounts for 65% of sales. In Springfield, flower makes up 50% of the store’s sales.
“At our rural locations, we’re starting to see folks migrate over to some of those manufactured products and away from flower,” he says. “We’re definitely seeing that mix of what folks are buying start to change as more and different products become available.”
The Farmer’s Wife has 24 employees working at its dispensaries and employs additional staff through 12 third-party positions related to other areas of the business, such as bookkeeping and security.
The Farmer’s Wife has partnered with Green Flower, a cannabis education platform, to provide training to its staff.
“The deal we worked out with Green Flower is all of our employees have access to Green Flower’s entire suite of courses for their first year that they’re with us,” Brodsky says. “We offer incentives in two-month blocks that if they finish all the coursework in that program, we give them a little cash bonus. We see it as at that point, they’re more valuable to us as employees, so we want to acknowledge that and we ask them to do that on their own time, so we want to compensate them for taking the time to educate themselves.”
The company has also partnered with Supper, a marketing agency that helped The Farmer’s Wife develop its brand name through its logos, website and social media.
“Having a strong brand is very important, and they’re ensuring that we’re doing a high-quality job on that,” Brodsky says.
The Farmer’s Wife also works with a head shop in Springfield called Kaleidoscope, which has been in business for 38 years and provides the dispensaries with a selection of smoke shop accessories and CBD products.
“If you walk into any other dispensary, they might have a few pipes here and there or some rolling papers, but we have a full offering for folks,” Brodsky says.
The company also maintains a partnership with a nonprofit organization called Ayden’s Alliance, which offers patient education events, caregiver matching and pop-ups to help patients register for their medical cannabis cards.
“It’s just a great organization, and we have actually rented space next to two of our locations so that they can do educational events and patient sign-ups right next door to us,” Brodsky says.
Looking ahead, The Farmer’s Wife will soon offer online ordering, drive-thru windows and delivery at its three dispensaries, and the team is already thinking about what an adult-use market might look like in Missouri.
At least two groups are working to place legalization measures on the state’s November 2022 ballot, and if one is successful, Brodsky says adult-use sales could launch in the first half of 2023.
“Polling looks good, so I think we’re going to be all right,” he says.