WYLLOW: Tiny but Mighty Dispensary
Newly opened WYLLOW can lay claim to being one of the most visually striking dispensaries in Los Angeles, a city home to no shortage of beautifully designed stores. Founded by Camille Roistacher, the space serves as a platform for brands owned by women, people of color, and queer entrepreneurs. The shop’s staff emphasizes quality interaction centered around multisensory, terpene-based product recommendations.
“I’m half Black, half Mexican, and when I started my [flower] brand WYLLOW, I was very fortunate that a lot of stores embraced it and embraced me as the founder,” said Roistacher. “This is my way of paying it forward and opening doors for other brands.”
The tiny store is located near the foot of Robertson Boulevard, a north-south commercial corridor that connects historic Culver City to Beverly Hills. The area is undergoing a gradual transformation as affluent Westside sprawls east, reviving neighborhoods around interstate highways 10 and 405. During the day, WYLLOW’s unassuming façade resembles a boutique jeweler, but at night the building throbs with the alluring neon glow of a psychedelic brand activation at a rave.
“Even though we are small in footprint, we wanted to go all out with design,” Roistacher said, so she contracted woman-owned, Singapore-based firm Space Objekt to design and build out the location. The international firm is celebrated for its use of transparent neon lights and playful shapes, and the team has developed a slew of immersive experiences at music festivals and pop-ups in high-end retail stores like Singapore’s Adidas MakerLab and Gucci Gothic. WYLLOW was Space Objekt’s first full retail buildout, and the project remained true to the firm’s hallmark style that makes small spaces engaging with innovative lighting and playful mirrors.
One of Roistacher’s favorite aspects of the design is the nearly endless variety of lighting styles and colors. “We customize the neon strip lights every single day,” she said. “We want everyone to have a ‘wow’ experience every time they come in, so we’re always trying to keep it fresh and a little bit different.”
As in some of Space Objekt’s other designs, archways help expand the height of WYLLOW’s interior by presenting a cathedral-like impression. Each arch is connected by neon strips and dichroic film, which shimmers like a gas-station puddle, further enhancing the trippy, cerebral nature of the space. The firm also managed to expand the sense of width in the room, creating an infinity effect by mirroring the side walls.
Each corner of the room contains a snug little seating booth with tufted upholstery that can seat up to three people. “We’ve had little parties in each booth,” Roistacher said. “We’ve had like three people at a time in each booth, fitting perfectly and comfortably. It’s actually a lot of fun when we’re packed, because it gets louder and the energy of the people really fills the room.”
When mg stopped by, a representative from flower and concentrate brand CLSICS was visiting to showcase products on a shelving unit dedicated to demo days. The intimacy of the shop floor means budtenders and brand reps can work together seamlessly to help expose customers to brands and lift sales.
On the counter in the center of the room, the budtender station has four lumps of volcanic rock housed inside glass cake domes, each doused in a different terpene commonly found in the products WYLLOW stocks. The porous rock, Roistacher explained, holds the scent of the terpenes for a long while. Customers may put their faces into the dome and be enveloped by the fresh scent of terps like myrcene and linalool as the budtender walks them through how the organic compounds correspond to product effects.
“A lot of customers are shopping based on THC percentages or simply indica, sativa, or hybrid,” she said. “Here, we like to go a little bit deeper and introduce everyone to terpenes first before we dive into products. That way, we can make a better product match.”
Although WYLLOW has customers who seek high-THC products — and the store stocks plenty of them — Roistacher said most are willing to be reoriented around the terpene profile once they understand its importance to the overall experience. “I had a customer last week who wanted 33-percent THC and up. Very specific,” she said. “But after learning about terpenes and understanding exactly how she was trying to feel, we were able to find some products that matched that weren’t exactly 33 percent, but she left very happy and, hopefully, with some new information to help her have better experiences.”
One particularly intriguing innovation is the way the store presents its inventory. At a glance, WYLLOW appears to have a hyper-curated selection of products displayed on just three shelves. But these are only the new and featured products from POC-, women-, and queer-owned brands. The dispensary’s complete menu of 220-plus products is available for browsing on a pair of wall-mounted touch screens. Budtenders then can put together a tray of products in the back room and present them to the customer.
This is a novel solution to a key problem many design-minded stores are forced to confront: stock the products people want and potentially compromise a manicured aesthetic vision, or curate the menu and risk underwhelming the kind of frequent consumers who will keep the business afloat.
Roistacher, who has been an entrepreneur in the industry for several years, declined to narrow the options for recreational consumers in a bid to appeal to the coveted cannacurious.
“We definitely pull in a lot of people who are either brand new or returning to cannabis, but we also get those heavy hitters who want diversity of product options that test really, really high,” she said. “We have products for all of those customers.”
WYLLOW has used its arresting design and socially conscious mission to reach big audiences on TikTok, and it maintains a five-star rating on Weedmaps by carving out a niche in its competitive catchment area.
“Weirdly, we’re becoming a date destination,” Roistacher said. “A lot of people come in dressed up either before or after their dinner, which is really nice. So if they were going to Culver City or maybe further north to Pico or Beverly Hills, WYLLOW is a really nice stop along the way.”
She jokingly suggested she may submit the 350-square-foot store for consideration in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest dispensary. It’s difficult to imagine any others that do so much with so little — all while giving a playful peek at the kind of experience-forward, purpose-driven stores we’re likely to see more of as competition increases and consumers look for memorable retail encounters.
2622 S Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Originally published at https://mgmagazine.com/business/retail-merchandise/wyllow-tiny-but-mighty-dispensary/ on September 1st, 2022.