Franchising stores in the legal marijuana industry isn't quite like opening fast-food restaurants, but Unity Road is ready to give it a go.
The dispensary franchiser just opened its first location, a shop in the heart of Boulder, at 1537 Pearl Street, although it's not actually owned by Unity Road. Similar to how restaurant franchising operates, Unity Road sells marketing and supply chains to dispensary owners, who pay Unity Road a fee for the branding and support.
Unity Road's Boulder location, formerly Trill Alternatives dispensary, is the company's first branded store, according to Chief Franchise Officer Mike Weinberger. Unity Road has plans for three more stores in Colorado, as well as seven other states around the country.
"For us, we always want to find the best locations — the best spots not only for our franchisees, but our brand, too. To have our flagship open in the heart of Boulder, right next to Mountain Sun Brewery. It couldn't get any better," Weinberger says. "Our franchisees own the business outright. We don't have equity in the business."
Unity Road made the transition at the Trill storefront around two weeks ago, Weinberger says, with plans for interior renovations, as well. The conversion marks the end of Trill dispensaries, which included a store in Denver and a store in Boulder at one point, but the brand's fate in the marijuana industry was sealed after founder David Threlfall closed the Denver store in 2019 and sold his shares of the Boulder location to Nate Wetzel, the Boulder dispensary's current owner.
Wetzel kept the dispensary as Threlfall moved on to found Trill Pills, a hemp-derived CBD brand, and that's where Unity Road came in.
"There are a lot of people getting into the cannabis business without proper operation producers and brand support," Weinberger says. "We provide the brand, marketing, support, supply chain, social media and everything else you'd need to run the dispensary."
Unity Road offers medical and recreational sales, and has an active medical delivery permit in Boulder, although Weinberger says the dispensary doesn't plan to start deliveries until August.