Evergreen Market held a soft opening for its new Bellevue store last Wednesday (July 31), and a grand opening ribbon-cutting was held Friday afternoon, Aug. 9.
The store marks the brand’s fifth greater Seattle area location, adding to two in Renton (Evergreen Market’s birthplace), one in Kirkland and another in Auburn. The store replaces the BelMar Bellevue Marijuana Store at 638 116th Ave. NE.
Currently, Evergreen Market’s Bellevue store retains 17 employees, but store manager Rachael Draper said she expects more will be brought aboard after the grand opening. For Draper, the amount of money the store has already generated — even before opening itself up to online orders — is a sign of good things to come.
“The entire neighborhood is telling us how crazy BelMar was, and how busy it was, and just to prepare ourselves,” she said. “We’re just really happy to be here — we love it here … we have four core values, which are community, integrity, respect and passion, and that’s exactly what we do here every day.”
The Bellevue store’s sleek interior is divided into different sections: concentrates and flower, pre-rolled joints, CBDs and medicinals, and edibles. Specially-trained budtenders wearing white lanyards roam the sales floor, ready to handle anything from first-time user questions to in-depth product comparisons.
Evergreen Market’s brand strategist Nikki Marangon said Evergreen Market distinguishes itself from competitors by prioritizing “a mission of normalization,” leaning on driven professionalism to eschew “lazy stoner” stereotypes.
“There’s a whole trope about having your afterwork cocktail,” Marangon said. “It’d be pretty incredible if instead of reaching for alcohol, someone could pick up a joint and nobody would look at them funny.”
Evergreen Market’s educators lead an outreach program in which they speak to the elderly at retirement communities in Renton, sharing the potential benefits of using CBD-based products to help with things like chronic dry skin and trouble sleeping.
“When there are pharmaceutical companies handing out opioids and other stuff like it’s candy, then the best thing we can do is contribute and show these communities, ‘Hey, there’s something else that you can give a try. If it works for you, then awesome,’” she said.
Marangon said that roughly three years has passed from the time the company obtained its Bellevue licensing to this summer’s opening, calling the process a “super labor of love.” Before BelMar’s closure, there were simply more licensees than 502-zoned areas in the city of Bellevue.
Referencing last April’s Kirkland opening, Marangon said, “This little Eastside takeover has been a great part of our success.”
Until Washington State law changes, however, Evergreen Market will not be able to open any more stores in the state. Currently, 502 businesses are capped at five locations.
“Every state has its own rules and regulations. It’s almost like going to a different country,” she said. “It all seems to vary from one day to the next, so we’ll see what the future holds.”
Marangon said that former BelMar customers’ accrued loyalty points will be honored at Evergreen Market.
“As far as the Bellevue community, I think we’re going to see another community that’s ready to embrace what cannabis has to offer,” Marangon said.