Barneys to become first major retailer to open legal weed shop

Discussion
Rendering: Barneys New York
Feb 12, 2019
George Anderson

Sometime late next month, Barneys New York will debut a store-within-a-store concept called The High End in its Beverly Hills location making it the first major retailer, management claims, to open a legal cannabis department (AKA head shop).

The luxury department store will stock a wide variety of upscale merchandise, including rolling papers, water pipes, stash boxes and vape pens, in the 300-square-foot shop. The New York Times reports that the merchandise will be expensive — Barneys will stock items such as a $1,475 sterling silver pot grinder.

“Barneys New York has always been at the forefront of shifts in culture and lifestyle, and cannabis is no exception,” said Daniella Vitale, Barneys chief executive officer & president, in a statement. “Many of our customers have made cannabis a part of their lifestyle, and The High End caters to their needs with extraordinary products and service.”

While Barneys will offer a variety of cannabis paraphernalia and some CBD oil items, it will not be selling the high-inducing weed since it is not a registered dispensary under California’s legal marijuana laws. The department store may expand The High End concept to other states that pass laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s your opinion on Barneys decision to open a cannabis lifestyle shop? Do you expect more mainstream retailers to make similar moves, and do you see any looking to open dispensaries in states where recreational and/or medical marijuana use is legal?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Looking for a 'statement' bong for your coffee table? It’ll be interesting to see the reaction to Barneys’ upscale head shop. I’ll give it a year."
"I think it is high time the bandwagon jumpers and the roaches get weeded out of the market, especially if they are only TOKEn players."
"This seems like a total head fake and blatant PR grab especially the headline. Selling accessories is a far cry from selling cannabis..."

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19 Comments on "Barneys to become first major retailer to open legal weed shop"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

I get the avant-garde angle, but I’m not sure this will lead to anything meaningful for Barneys. Cannabis is now legal nationally in Canada and in 10 U.S. states. Cannabis has already started to move into the mainstream, and so I expect to see more retailers looking to add this to their product mix. But retailers shouldn’t be considering adding cannabis just because there is demand for the product – it still has to fit the brand image and direction the retailer is going. Cannabis at Barneys? I don’t get it and I’m not sure many of Barneys’ customers will either.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

In the words of Wings (Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman) “We’re gonna get high, high, high in the midday sun.” I don’t think cannabis and Barneys are a match. Let’s wait and see…

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Interesting move that a high-end (no pun intended) retailer will sell what is still considered controversial merchandise. There are people that have a strong opinion against legalizing cannabis. There is a risk of alienating those customers. I’m sure Barneys has done its homework. If they have, and the market is telling them this will work, I applaud them for being one of the first department stores to venture into this market. As cannabis becomes legal in more states – and as common as buying liquor – we’ll see many more retailers jumping in.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Looking for a “statement” bong for your coffee table? It’ll be interesting to see the reaction to Barneys’ upscale head shop. I’ll give it a year.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

We have now had designer jeans, designer sneakers and now we can have a designer bong? I love it! Be the first on your block…

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

We have done extensive research into the legal cannabis space. At present, it is worth $10.9 billion across both the recreational and medical markets. By 2020 we forecast legal spending will be $25.1 billion. This is a booming category and one that now goes well beyond raw cannabis flowers and smoking products – cannabis edibles, beauty products, and even pet care are seeing an explosion in growth. As such, I suspect more and more retailers will take an interest.

The challenge is that outside of low concentrate CBD the market is very complex and regulations and laws different enormously. So this, for the time being, isn’t an easy category to roll out nationally.

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

Barney’s and weed? Not sure I get dispensing buds, but I’d visit to check out the cannabis infused cosmetics and skincare offerings, which I believe have potential to be extraordinary!

Lauren Goldberg
BrainTrust

I am for being relevant and localizing your assortment to meet the needs of the local consumer. Cannabis is moving more and more into the mainstream and I expect it to be as readily available as alcohol in the future.. I think it’s an interesting concept — there is definitely a higher-end cannabis customer segment that might feel more comfortable in a luxury retailer than a traditional head shop. I applaud them for trying something innovative.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust
I will go out on a limb here and voice my opinion about legalizing marijuana. First, it always comes down to money. Legalizing marijuana will bring in millions if not billions of dollars long-term. However, after dealing with many fellow musicians through the years who were hooked on drugs, many of whom have died, they all started with marijuana. When I see the battles through the years regarding drunk drivers; all the lobbying and legal arguments do we finally have strict laws, yet we still have many people killed every year from those behind the wheel intoxicated. It’s sad that we will now create a new problem once marijuana is entirely legal. We will find ourselves not saying “Don’t drink and drive” but rather “don’t smoke and drive” as they are already saying in Colorado. As a result, we will have created another condition that will take lives, and we’ll be spending years lobbying Congress and battles in courts to get stricter laws. I have to ask — is this wise? So I’m not in… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I think it is high time the bandwagon jumpers and the roaches get weeded out of the market, especially if they are only TOKEn players. There … got that out of my system. Forgive the tongue-in-cheek response, but it strikes me as a so-hip-it-hurts merchandising ploy. Yes, cannabis is going to be an important factor in legal retailing, but Barneys may have jumped the gun a bit. On the other hand, maybe they do know their customers better than it seems. On a more serious note the question of retail sales is an interesting one. Clearly CBD-infused products are making wide inroads in categories as diverse as cosmetics and beverages, but will THC-based product follow? I think the answer is probably no in most cases, at least for now.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Why shouldn’t Barneys capitalize on the cannabis craze? You could argue that they would be remiss to sit it out. Barneys’ high-end, paraphernalia will appeal to well-heeled shoppers who enjoy high times, especially for gift-giving. Barneys Bongs has a ring to it, amirite?

David Weinand
BrainTrust

People with money like to imbibe in the green stuff and in materialistic L.A., this should draw some interest and publicity for Barneys. Will it impact their business? No.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

it’ll be interesting to see what happens after first-to-market hits like this. Green Growth Brands opened a kiosk in Kentucky yesterday on the same note. When this type of thing becomes ubiquitous, what will the differentiator be then? Brand? Price? Strength? An all-new commodity — this is going to be fun for retail. A reason to visit a physical space? Perhaps (at first anyway).

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Clever stunt. Probably smart for Barneys. And it will have a short-term impact.

That said, I do expect that as laws become more clear, more corporate entities will open weed shops — whether stand-alone or integrated into stores.

On the other hand if they’re looking for profit, they should pay close attention to the hours and accessibility maintained by the successful current stores. It may be that to make profit these stores need to maintain highly extended hours.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

If everyone is playing the pun game — great kudos to Barneys for testing the (bong) water. I definitely see mainstream — especially regional — retailers getting into the space, but think that the upside will be in dispensaries, not paraphernalia. Creating an in-house dispensary brand and promoting white label designer strains might be good places to start. A focus on the innovation and consistency of a retailer’s products will be needed to separate them from the stand-alone shops.

Rob Gallo
BrainTrust

Even though we have been talking about it for a while now, legal marijuana and CBD are still in the very early innings of a huge growth phase. The early movers are not retail operators and the experience, or lack thereof, reflects that. Ultimately, they will be pushed to the wayside.

While it certain seems inevitable that these categories go mainstream, it will be “retailization” that will get us there. To do that, store and online experiences must improve, education must be better, hubris must be pushed aside.

With a track record of excellent store experiences, Barneys absolutely should be looking into this. Do I expect it to be a serious growth vehicle for the company? No. Will other mainstream retailers try it? Yes. Green Growth Brands opened a store last week and signed a deal for 100+ more. It will be exciting to watch.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

My opinion? Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Granted this is probably in keeping with Barney’s image — and to a large extent, reality — of being a trendy retailer. But I’m doubtful it does anything to advance the brand. If I were in management, I’d be more worried about problems with the New York “flagships” and the danger that Barney’s is slipping into the “has been”/fad territory.

OTOH, they can probably count on repeat business … the people won’t remember they already bought something !!

Jeff Miller
BrainTrust

This seems like a total head fake and blatant PR grab especially the headline. Selling accessories is a far cry from selling cannabis, and a “cannabis lifestyle shop” just seems off. What is a “cannabis lifestyle?” There is no singular lifestyle. I guess they are going for the high-end Beverly Hills cannabis user who may think it is too hard to order accessories online or even make a trip down to MedMen.

Steve Dennis
BrainTrust

I always applaud brands for pushing the envelope and being willing to experiment. And there’s no denying that this is a growing market. But the connection with a luxury fashion business seems tenuous at best. It feels off brand and, like others have suggested, it also feels more PR stunt than serious new business exploration.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Looking for a 'statement' bong for your coffee table? It’ll be interesting to see the reaction to Barneys’ upscale head shop. I’ll give it a year."
"I think it is high time the bandwagon jumpers and the roaches get weeded out of the market, especially if they are only TOKEn players."
"This seems like a total head fake and blatant PR grab especially the headline. Selling accessories is a far cry from selling cannabis..."

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