Kobie Evans, co-owner of Pure Oasis, Boston’s first recreational cannabis dispensary, joined Boston Public Radio on Thursday as part of the BPR’s ongoing series about local businesses re-emerging from the pandemic.
Pure Oasis, which is the first Black-owned cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts, opened on March 9, 2020, as part of the Cannabis Control Commission’s equity program. But only two weeks after it opened, the business was forced to temporarily close due to the pandemic. Gov. Charlie Baker's emergency order, which closed all “non-essential” businesses, including recreational cannabis shops, was lifted in May.
Just days after it reopened following the mandated statewide shutdown, Pure Oasis was robbed of over $100,000 worth of cannabis when looters exploited the peaceful demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd.
Despite the hurdles it's faced this past year, Pure Oasis has hung on to hope and found ways to survive, Evans said.
"We're eternal optimists," he said. "In those two months of being closed, we did a deep dive of the business, did a reorganization and tried to figure out what we could do better and improve the business while we were closed."
The pandemic created new challenges for the business, like pivoting to curbside delivery and dealing with people who were anxious to pick up orders because of COVID-19, Evans added.
"But weirdly enough, the pandemic created a whole new customer base," he said. "Parents were being thrust at home with their kids and trying to figure out how to manage working from home, so all of a sudden they're knocking on the door trying to figure out how to get some relief."
Pure Oasis continues to reinvent itself to stay ahead of the game, Evans said. "Just like liquor stores, the cannabis industry has created some new customers with people who need some recreational relief," he said. "And that's what we're there for."
While a brick-and-mortar business comes with its own set of obstacles, Evans said that there are still ways for Pur Oasis keep evolving.
"What we can look at doing is improving every customer interaction, he said. "How do we get better products, and how do we redesign the store? There are things we can do."
WATCH: Kobie Evans on sustaining his business during the pandemic and creating new customers