The legalization of cannabis in the United States is hitting main streets across the country. The growth of the marijuana business has led to shop fronts that are flamboyant and kitsch-looking. The McBride Company has been steadily translating its themed environment design to the burgeoning retail cannabis business. The interdisciplinary design firm has designed dozens of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurants as well as the Margaritaville resorts.
Firm founder Pat McBride says the future of cannabis design is not so different from an extravagant Margaritaville.
“The initial dispensaries looked more like a pharmacy or GNC or an Apple store. The connection to the history, the music, and the story of cannabis was basically eliminated,” McBride says.
McBride understands why the first dispensaries took a more conservative design approach in the early days of decriminalization, but decided that cannabis shouldn’t turn its back on its counter-culture roots and embraced the wacky side of weed in his designs.
Grass Monkey in Maine is an eccentric and fluorescent store, with an emphasis on graffiti art and monkey-themed sculptures and product displays. Lush green plants spill from shelves, with oversize banana accents on the main product display. The store does all the things the business needs. It makes customers feel comfortable and enable workers to guide stoners through the purchasing experience but tries to make it more than just a transaction. The dispensary has a consumption lounge and live music venue, with cocktail bar-like seating and mood lighting similar to a nightclub.
Margaritaville is also getting into the game, with its new Coral Reefer brand cannabis stores that embrace the smokier side of the Jimmy Buffett island lifestyle.