How do you create community amongst customers ranging from 21 - 80 years old, in the middle of the desert, during a global pandemic? If you’re Rich Eaton of the Vault, you open a cannabis dispensary and lounge in Cathedral City that caters to customer experience above all else, leaves trends to the trendy, and places immeasurable value on the often intangible, vibe.
To be fair, the Vault didn’t open during the pandemic, but it has spent 5 of it’s first 12 months in business operating under its version of the new normal. And to be fair, Rich isn’t your standard dispensary owner, retiring from a longtime career in law enforcement to (by way of real-estate and self-education) become the founder of the Vault in Cathedral City, CA.
In a place like the Coachella Valley tourist season typically spans from November to June. Cannabis businesses, like all local enterprises in destination cities, are dependent upon these increases in traffic (by as much as 50%) to drive numbers, but when events from Coachella to the BNP Paribas Open to Hall of Flowers are canceled, everything gets put on hold. Unless you’re the Vault. If you’re the Vault, you stay the course and double down on customer experience.
The team at the Vault has kept both the dispensary and consumption lounge open daily, adhering to all health guidelines, and continuing to support and grow their customer base despite outside hardships. While they haven’t been able to host events to the scale of what they’d previously planned (UFC Events on 5 Screens, Live Music & Top Tier Comedy Acts), Rich has empowered his staff to build community on a smaller scale and offers the locals a safe place to medicate.
Let’s get this straight. Rich is not a dictator and has no desire to be in the store every day. As a retired Deputy Sheriff/FBI operative, turned realtor and lifetime learner he is infinitely passionate about what they’ve created - so passionate in fact, that he has instilled this same passion in his staff. Building a team that can cater to customers from 80-year-old ex-NFL players overcoming addiction to 20-something tourists looking to try something new is no easy task but the crew at the Vault continues to exceed expectations.
Despite their diverse customer base, and the ebb and flow of the industry through the pandemic (ie the gummy wave), flower has held strong as the lead category for the Vault with THC content and price preceding smell and sight in the majority of customer decisions. Beyond considering the consumption patterns of their customers, which rich affectionately describes as “bougie,” the team always looks to introduce new patrons to the consumption lounge.
The lounge at the Vault has been open since inception (yes, even throughout the pandemic) and offers users a different experience to all users. For Rich and his staff it’s a chance to get to know their customers, as well as their brand partners, and truly build a community. For brands, it’s an opportunity to offer sampling and in-person activations (once permitted) without the typically associated headache. And for the end-consumer, it's a place to kick up their feet, take over one of the entertainment systems, order something from the secret menu (cannabis-infused rootbeer float or creamsicle anyone) and enjoy their newly purchased product.
Feeling ready for a trip to the desert? Us too.
What if we told you that they had also gone taxless for the month of March 2020. Yup. Well, they did but unfortunately, you missed it. Hey, there’s always next year.
To expound, for no reason beyond gaining information which he had hoped to present in contention to the taxes in the region, the Vault covered the cost of all taxes on cannabis purchases (in their store) for the entire month. While they ended up contributing just over $60K when all was said and done, the shop saw an average $11.00 higher spend per customer with the 31st doing 4/20 numbers in volume. Unfortunately, the loss of tourist season in the region this year made the discovery a moot point for the time being, but this ex-officer is dedicated to demonstrating the potential growth for all cannabis businesses through reduced taxation.
From taxless March (here’s to 2021) to high-quality flower and beverages at the best prices to a comfortable place to enjoy your favorite cannabis products, the Vault is a must-add to your list for your next trip to the desert. Pack your bags, hit the road, swing by the Vault and (after you convince yourself to leave the lounge) you’ll be on your way to high times in the Coachella Valley.