Fri, May 29, 2020
∙ READING TIME: 3 MINUTES ∙

It’s easy to look around our community and see the economic impact of Covid-19, in just a few weeks. Shops closed “till further notice”, events cancelled or postponed and kids are home, much to their parent’s dismay. This is our world now, driving cautiously from home to work with little in between and staying home with our families. Sounds nice at first, but we all know it can’t last. Especially for the Cannabis industry.

It’s easy to look around our community and see the economic impact of Covid-19, in just a few weeks. Shops closed “till further notice”, events cancelled or postponed and kids are home, much to their parent’s dismay. This is our world now, driving cautiously from home to work with little in between and staying home with our families. Sounds nice at first, but we all know it can’t last. Especially for the Cannabis industry.

I had a chance to talk with Chad Ragsdale, owner of Matanuska Cannabis Co. and the now waiting MCC Flight, which is a finished building sitting on a lot, waiting for the end of the crisis. Over the phone, Chad talked with me about the changes, expectations and surprises so far.

“We jumped on this right away with extra cleaning and gloves, and we even had people wait on a bench if too many customers were in the store,” recalled Chad, explaining that he had his staff alert and prepared as they went into action fast.

“We were one of the first places to start pulling back because I had a feeling this issue could grow,” Ragsdale said.

“We thought we might have to close, so we ran a sale, but then the governor released the mandate. After closer examination and discussions with our lawyer, we came to the conclusion we could stay open.”

Matanuska Cannabis Co. not only shortened their hours, they also reduced staff from 11 people to four, increased cleaning protocols, implemented the use of masks, eliminated any menus handled by hand, and installed plexiglas in their ‘cage.’

But just how did customers react to these changes?

“We’ve had a crazy amount of people that don’t believe this is a real situation,” said Chad.

“They’ve been very vocal to myself and the budtenders and it’s disappointing. Thankfully, my team has been amazing during this entire process. They’ve been patient, understanding and calm in all situations despite the challenges.”

Matanuska Cannabis Co. is not the first to mention customers having an attitude. Numerous posts on ACR (the Alaska Cannabis Review Facebook page used by many in the industry) from budtenders are flooding news feeds, with discussions of kindness and patience.

“We’re simply following the guidelines, but if people don’t believe this is real, they’ve had a little edge to them,” Chad said.

“It’s important to us to protect our staff and customers. We’ve encouraged people to be kind no matter where they are shopping. People are allowed to have feelings and opinions, but we need to follow guidelines to stay open.”

Like many situations, this problem has created two sides: the people who seem to be staying at home, overly cautious of infecting their families, and then the people who simply believe it’s all a hoax or not as bad as the media says. I think we can all agree that the mass public media and social media have not helped U.S. citizens, or their businesses, during this trying time. Here, misinformation plagues business owners and consumers alike.

“A huge thing I’ve learned is that it’s important to stay on top of the information regarding Covid-19,” Chad continued.

“I spend most of my day just making sure we are following the most current guidelines and mandates from the State and CDC for our business to stay open. I’m in contact with my attorney constantly and I’m working to make sure the information I get is accurate from the CDC or Alaska DHSS. At this point I’m hoping things can recover quickly. I am glad the state government took action to keep people safe, but there is more work to be done. We will need options in the Cannabis industry if things start getting completely shut down.”

Chad is right. If Cannabis businesses have to completely shut down it could be horrific. While people have this perception that Cannabis businesses are ‘killin it,’ they have more regulation and red tape than I’ve ever seen. No ability to deliver, limited customer base, strict advertising rules, limited sponsorship opportunities and being cash only makes owning a business in this industry complicated to say the least.

Hopefully Chad’s second location – MCC Flight – will be able to open in late May or June, but only time will tell. Until then, there’s a building on a lot with rent due, and little help is in sight.

“I spend most of my day just making sure we are following the most current guidelines and mandates from the State and CDC for our business to stay open. I’m in contact with my attorney constantly and I’m working to make sure the information I get is accurate from the CDC or Alaska DHSS.”

Chad Ragsdale | Owner
Matanuska Cannabis Co.

matanuskacannabis.com

STORY by MICHAEL CONSALO for ALASKA LEAF