County’s newest recreational marijuana shop opens for business
Located only 10 miles from Quincy, GoodBuds is one of three recreational marijuana retail shops now open in Grant County.
GoodBuds opened on March 1 to little fanfare. And that’s just the way they wanted it so they could work out any kinks, said new owners Tom and Sue Ralls, whose sons Kai and Kris Ralls work beside them at GoodBuds.
Still, the store, listed on several websites that direct people to shops across the state, is attracting 10 to 15 customers a day, Tom said. Located at Road K Northwest and Highway 283, GoodBuds is open six days a week; it is closed on Mondays.
Tom is a retired longshoreman, and Sue is a retired software project manager. With a business partner, they opened the Soap Lake Yacht Club, a kayak and stand-up paddle board rental business, last year. If that wasn’t enough to keep them busy, the couple jumped into the highly regulated recreational marijuana industry, made legal in Washington after voters passed I-502 in 2012.
“This is a stressful industry to get into,” Sue admitted.
But Sue was no stranger to taking on calculated risks in her prior profession. She was confident she and her husband had the business experience and expertise to jump into the new adventure. And that’s just what they are calling GoodBuds.
“We are on our new adventure,” Sue said.
The couple applied to the Washington State Liquor Control Board in December 2013 for one of the three at-large county retailer licenses. The county is allowed seven retail locations. The other two retailers up and running are in Ephrata and Moses Lake. (Quincy, which is allowed one retailer by the state, banned recreational marijuana retailers from the city limits last year.)
It took a long time to find the right location, the Ralls said. The building the Ralls found was once a Christian school. Sitting on 10 acres, the school had sat empty for 15 years before the couple came along.
The Ralls are using only about half the building’s space and would like to see a wine tasting room move into the other portion. The building could showcase two of Washington’s most popular crops, Sue joked.
“A super pairing – weed and wine,” she said.
The real draw to the property was that it is only 15 miles from the Gorge Amphitheatre, where the Ralls expect many of their customers will be headed to or from come concert season time. The bright green-and-yellow store with the state flag flying overhead is an easy pull off from Interstate 90 with plenty of parking.
Being so far from a metropolitan area may be a struggle for the small family business, Tom said. That’s why it’s important GoodBuds be supported by the local community, he added.
And it appears the community is doing just that. About 80 percent of their business comes from local residents, Tom said.
A cross section of people, from local farmers to tourists traveling through the area, stop in the shop. Sue recalled one day watching two carloads of people pull up. Out walked seven elderly people in their 80s, she said.
“It was like watching ‘Cocoon’ or something,” said Sue, who has especially enjoyed talking with and learning about her customers.
Most days, the shop also receives visits from the state’s producers as well, Tom said. At this time, GoodBuds’ suppliers are from Shelton, Spokane, Wenatchee and Peshastin.
“We try to focus on local as much as possible, but we want a high quality marijuana,” Tom said.
The shop, which also sells smoking accessories and edibles, aims to offer a variety of product at different prices to appeal to a variety of customers. At this time, GoodBuds’ most inexpensive marijuana is selling at $15 a gram.
What will set GoodBuds apart from what is surely going to eventually be a more competitive market?
“We’re hoping that it’s our quality of weed that we offer,” Sue said.
For the Ralls, it’s been exciting to be at the forefront of a new industry in Washington.
“This is like jumping in on the leading edge of something,” Sue said.
— By Jill FitzSimmons, firstname.lastname@example.org