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Bumpy Start For State Pot Stores As They Try To Juggle Supply, Demand, Staffing

Courtesy of Amber Marra/The Enterprise.
Margie Lemberger stands in front of her store in Bingen, Washington.

Buying legal pot is turning into a game of Where’s Waldo. Stores are open one day, but closed the next. A small handful of shops are still doing business, but that could change at any time. 

Licensed pot stores are trying to keep up with demand for weed, and it seems people are willing to drive to get it.

“We had someone from Wyoming. We had someone from Chicago,” said Margie Lemberger, a longtime pharmacist who just opened shop Tuesday in the tiny town of Bingen, near the Columbia River Gorge. 

Lemberger has product and she’s trying to keep customers updated. But she says knowing how to communicate has been a bit of a mystery.

“My Liquor Control Board inspector told me that the only kind of advertising I could have was my sign, that I wasn’t even allowed to have a business card,” she said.

Lemberger says she has decided to go ahead with a website; she’ll just leave out prices. 

With ups and downs in inventory, owners are also grappling with staffing since they shut down intermittently. Pot store owners are relying heavily on friends and family to staff the counters until the supply evens out, possibly in the fall. 

In the meantime, Adam Markus of Station 420 in Union Gap says he has inventory, but a different issue is holding him back.

“We are closed today and the reason we’re closed is, we have a couple of deliveries in, the state has some pretty heavy requirements on how we get everything booked in, and with a small staff, it’s difficult to bring the deliveries in,” he said Wednesday.

And proprietors can expect at least a few more challenges. The Liquor Control Board just approved rules for edible marijuana, which answers some questions, but raises new ones, too. Brownies and cookies are OK, but candies like lollipops and gummy bears are not.


Alison Marcotte contributed to this story. Map by Malcolm Griffes and Alison Marcotte. 

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