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Joliet cannabis store thriving despite blow dealt by COVID-19 pandemic to local economy

As many industries have felt economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rise Joliet is among the cannabis stores in Illinois bucking the trend.

Derrick Levy, the district manager of Rise Joliet, said the numbers speak for themselves.

They show that Green Thumb Industries, the company that operates Rise Joliet and owns marijuana dispensaries in 12 states, netted $102.6 million from January through March and

$119.6 million from April through June for total cannabis sales when many industries were forced to shut down in response to the pandemic.

“I think we obviously saw the steady demand throughout the pandemic,” Levy said. “We’ve increased month over month as a state.”

At the same time, Rise Joliet has made a number of changes to its business model since the pandemic first hit.

Levy said company leadership is following the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which calls for, among other measures, the practice of social distancing.

Another change to store operations was the implementation of a call center to receive and process orders.

“We intended on using online ordering; I just don’t think that we intended it to grow as fast as it did,” Levy said. “Once COVID hit, we had to turn it on at all of our locations immediately, but I think overall it was a success and a great avenue.”

During the pandemic, Rise Joliet also has allowed curbside pickup, the preferred method for many of those looking for medicinal cannabis, which Levy said opens up more space in the store for those purchasing recreational cannabis.

Levy said the store is now fully stocked with items for medicinal and recreational use, but that’s not always been the case. He said that balancing the company’s supply and demand for medicinal and recreational cannabis has been an essential component to doing business, as is ensuring there is adequate personal protective equipment available to staff.

“As a company, GTI itself, I think we’ve been very forward-thinking in making sure that we have all our bases covered,” he said. “We had regular meetings every day and continue to have regular meetings.”

Community engagement is another component to Rise Joliet’s business model.

Levy acknowledged that there are groups of people that have been disproportionally impacted by drug charges involving cannabis and said the company is doing its part to bring greater awareness to the issue.

“We recognize these things,” he said. “We’ve done a couple campaigns highlighting the people disproportionally affected by the war on drugs.”

Levy said it’s clear to those at Rise Joliet that something has to give.

“As a company, we try to do our part in engaging the community, making sure that we are giving back,” Levy said.

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