Shryne Group Co-Founder and CEO Brian Mitchell is helping to build a behemoth from his office in California. While having one of the most popular vaporizer brands in the largest adult use market under his portfolio doesn’t hurt, Brian is looking towards the future of cannabis retail by rolling out a series of dispensaries geared towards experience.
We sat down with Brian to talk about his new flagship store for STIIIZY in downtown Los Angeles, as well as the future plans for the Shryne Group brand in this exclusive interview.
MRR: Can you walk us through your background and how you came to head Shryne Group?
Brian Mitchell: So I’m not originally from the cannabis industry. In 2012, kind of on a whim, I bought a 160 acre farm up in Humboldt. In my previous life I was in real estate development and I had a large commercial construction company. I was in an exchange and I needed kind of an up-leg so someone convinced me to buy that farm. Originally I was really reluctant. But in doing so, it kind of sparked my curiosity as to when would this go fully legal and what risk was I taking?
I ended up buying another 160 acre farm along with a number of properties in southern California where I would lease to some of the top operators in the medical market. That’s when I met two of our partners that at the time were the largest medical operators in southern California. So over the past five years, we had a relationship where I was someone that could find properties and as Prop 64 passed, I was able to get licenses throughout California. Everything from roughly 300,000 square feet facility in Sacramento with conditional use permits, to retail locations. I got a license in San Francisco, that would be La Corona Wellness, which is one of our assets today.
We also have a fully vertical distribution, manufacturing, cultivation, and delivery center in Oakland. I was kind of running around developing licensed assets. At the beginning of the year I sat down with two of our partners, and I said, we’re consolidating on our side and we’re going to have a hard time not doing this together because of joint assets. So we decided to throw everything in and create one company with the same cap table. That’s how Shryne Group was formed.
MRR: When you were considering the locations that you wanted to have for a flagship of the STIIIZY brand, what went into the thought process behind that?
Brian Mitchell: So obviously with cannabis it’s a bit of a unique industry, right? In no other industry do you have to be an expert in agriculture, manufacturing, distribution, logistics, sales, marketing, branding, ext. and for real estate it’s restricted by Green Zone. So we knew we had to have something in LA. LA is where our brand was born. The culture in LA embraces our brand and we embraced the culture.
So we found this building that was 75,000 square feet and had 50,000 square feet behind it that we could use for cultivation and it made a lot of sense because it’s pre-ICO. So that’s kind of how we decided on that. As far as the other locations, if you look at say Modesto. You think, why Modesto right? We know how much product they buy in Modesto because we sell to all the other licensed groups up there, and while we’re not trying to necessarily take sales away from them, we know we have a lot of followers in the valley. So Modesto made a lot of sense for us. Davis, that was a little selfish. Me and John went to Davis, so we kind of wanted one there. San Francisco Union Square, that was a no-brainer and then the only license in Alameda which was also a no-brainer. Then you have San Bernardino where like STIIIZY first launched at Kush Stock a couple of years back.
People think Beverly Hills and Venice beach are great areas for a dispensary, but where are the consumers? Where is the largest concentration of consumers focused on our products at? That’s where we’re concentrating on.
MRR: We’re about a year into the recreational market here in California. Can you tell us about how the landscape has been for you?
Brian Mitchell: It’s been really interesting and frustrating at times, but that also has given us a chance to kind of get organized and build our team. We’ve been flying a plane while we’ve been building it for awhile now, but because they’ve moved slow it’s actually been to our advantage. We’re now in a position where we have an amazing team of people that understand the process from seed to sale, and are cannabis hands-on. They’ve done it before. We have people that understand the cannabis culture just as much as we have people from outside the cannabis industry that were experts in their fields. People with JD/MBA’s from good schools that were in other lines of work. So we’ve used that time wisely and we’re prepared to execute on what we have in front of us.
MRR: When you were deciding which products to have inside your store, what went into that thought process?
Brian Mitchell: Yeah, so obviously we’re going to have all of our own products along with other people’s products. So we have the STIIIZY vapes, and our newly branded flower and gummies. But then this is for the people. So desired brands, like PLUS or Kanha or whatever it might be, we’re going to offer that as well. So we might stock a certain percentage of the shelves with our own products, but we’re also going to give our customers a low, mid and high priced tier for everything from flower to edibles and concentrates.
MRR: You guys are owning the California market and just launched into Michigan. Any future expansion?
Brian Mitchell: We are going to remain laser focused on California, but we are going to be doing some expansion as it makes sense to do so. As you mentioned, we did just launch in Michigan recently. But we’re in talks with people that are trying to get us into Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Florida, Illinois, I mean all over. The thing is, I don’t want to get too distracted from the largest market for cannabis in the world. If we have deals that make sense and there’s people that want our product there, then yeah we’re probably going to be expanded to some more states pretty soon.
MRR: On the alternative cannabinoid market, are you guys looking at CBD, THCV, CBG?
Brian Mitchell: Yeah, we have looked into it. I think that unfortunately because we don’t have federal legalization, there’s a limit to the amount of testing that they can do to really tell what each cannabinoid does. I know THCV has been something I’ve been interested in for since I heard of it a couple of years ago as like an appetite suppressant and all that, but I think I want to see more scientific research.
As far as CBD, we’re actually pretty big in CBD right now. We’re building out a facility that will be one of the largest hemp manufacturing facilities right now. That facility will be in Compton and is set to go live later this year, so yes CBD and hemp are a very big thing for us. CBD is something that we’re putting quite a bit of money and effort into because we believe in it.