How Windy City Cannabis Is Breathing New Life Into Chicago's Weed Street

Windy City Cannabis is bringing more to Chicago's Lincoln Park than just pot products.

The company, which recently opened a recreational-only dispensary on nearby Weed Street, is creating jobs and giving back to the local community.

So far, Windy City has partnered with nonprofits Brave Space Alliance and Growing Home, showing patrons of its dispensaries that there's more to business than just the bottom line.

The company's new dispensary, which spans 1100-square-feet, marks its debut in Chicago proper, according to CEO Steve Weisman.

"We couldn't think of a better place to launch that dream," he said at the July 1 opening.

Benzinga followed up with Weisman to learn more about the dispensary's debut, what it means for Chicagoans and what the future holds for Windy City Cannabis.

BZ: Why was getting the brand to Chicago proper a crucial step?

Weisman: We are really excited about this particular location in Lincoln Park. Since beginning in 2014 with our original southside locations, our goal has always been to bring our inclusive and welcoming brand to Chicago proper. The Weed Street location was a happy coincidence, but there couldn’t be a better fit. There’s a burgeoning retail corridor nearby, anchored by Whole Foods. And on a personal level, opening in this particular location is a dream come true.

Why's that?

I grew up playing basketball across the street. Opening a new story in a dense city is quite an accomplishment, considering how COVID disrupted so many businesses in 2020.

Did the debut go as planned or were there any challenges?

The onset of the coronavirus added some additional challenges, but we did not experience any significant delays and managed to open as scheduled. In terms of day-to-day operations, we have special measures in place to protect the health of our customers and employees. We are encouraging pre-order wherever possible, practicing social distancing and requiring everyone who enters the dispensary to wear a face mask, as well as operating an increased cleaning schedule. These things took some additional consideration and planning, but I’m proud of our team, opening this location successfully during this unprecedented time.

So far, the Weed Street location has created 33 new jobs. Is there a goal to fill more?

We are passionate about serving the communities in which we operate and that includes maintaining inclusive hiring practices. Our focus is, and will continue to be to drive equitable, diverse growth opportunities within the cannabis industry. Our recruitment efforts are ongoing. We’re currently hiring across all Windy City Cannabis locations.

A portion of proceeds from opening day were donated to the Brave Space Alliance. Why did you pick this group?

As a Chicagoland born-and-bred dispensary, we are passionate about investing in our local community to make it a safer, more inclusive and just place for all.

The Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ Center located on the South Side of Chicago. They do incredibly important work in providing resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ+ individuals, and all of us at Windy City Cannabis are proud to have partnered with the organization in donating a portion of proceeds from Weed Street’s opening day.

We are committed to lifting up and empowering Black communities.

Any further partnerships planned with this or other local organizations?

Windy City Cannabis has an ongoing partnership with Growing Home, a local urban farm that aims to nourish communities literally with fresh, organic produce in the Englewood neighborhood, and figuratively through job training and investing in the economic health of the local community. At Windy City, we are united by our mission to give back to Chicagoland, investing in the people and communities that support and sustain economies.

Describe the role of a Patient Counselor — what do they do and why is it important?

Our employees are an integral part of the Windy City Cannabis experience. Their role is to answer any and all questions, to educate and to give tailored and personalized product recommendations.

What can we expect from the company in the second half of 2020?

We plan to continue to grow our business, organically and through opening additional locations.


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