Metro East Dispensary Sees ‘Drastic Decrease’ After Missouri Legalizes Weed Sales

Beyond Hello was once the go-to dispensary for St. Louisans without a med card

Aug 18, 2023 at 7:00 am
click to enlarge Beyond Hello's dispensaries in Sauget, Illinois are just a few minutes away from downtown St. Louis.
Monica Obradovic
Beyond Hello's dispensaries in Sauget, Illinois are just a few minutes away from downtown St. Louis.

Two things come to mind when St. Louisans think of Sauget, Illinois: weed and nightclubs. The small village directly across the river is the land of smokestacks, strip joints and minor league baseball, with a population of just a few hundred people. It’s the unofficial playground of St. Louis. And before Missouri legalized recreational marijuana, Sauget was the unofficial destination for quality dispensary weed. 

But no more. Now, Missourians can buy weed in their home state, where taxes on the product are much lower. We spoke to Trent Woloveck, chief strategy director for Jushi, Beyond Hello’s parent company, about how things have changed for Beyond Hello’s two dispensaries in Sauget — Sauget2 near the river and Goose Lake further south — since adult-use sales began earlier this year.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Have you noticed a difference in sales since Missouri began legal recreational marijuana sales in February?

We actually saw a pretty drastic decrease in our sales, from pretty much the onset. The good news is, we’ve been able to work with our vendors and partners in the state to break down pricing and also keep products in stock and diversify our shelves. 

Quite frankly, we’ve taken a hit from a sales perspective, a lot larger than we thought initially. Obviously, the tax piece plays a huge part of that, when someone’s having to pay 30 percent to 35 percent compared to 6 percent to 10 percent in Missouri. That’s a big difference. 

I think the Missouri market took off a lot more than operators there thought. There’s been product shortages and other growing pains that everybody experiences as you transition from a medical market to an adult market. 

How drastic was the sales hit? Can you put that into numbers?

We’re a publicly traded company, so we don’t report on a store-to-store basis. But, overall, we saw a 30 percent to 40 percent decrease in our revenues. 

Tell me a little more about the price piece you mentioned. How has Beyond Hello been able to change its prices?

We’re not vertically integrated in Illinois, meaning we don’t have a cultivation or manufacturing facility. From a pricing perspective, we have to lean a little more on our partners than other states where we are vertically integrated. We’ve been able to go back to companies like GTI, Verano, Nature's Grace and Wellness, to work on cost with us. When we get a price break, we’re passing that on to all of the consumers. 

At Sauget2, which is right across the bridge, we’ve gotten a little more aggressive on pricing and margins with that store, since it was such a heavy Missouri-centric store. 

Has the revenue loss affected employees at this point?

We’re always assessing our business; looking at and understanding how to drive efficiencies. I think whenever you go from seeing 1,000 people a day to 500 people a day, you just have to adjust staffing from a retail perspective. We’re always going to continue to look at and understand that. 

But in the grand scheme of things, as somebody who’s been in the regulated cannabis industry for 14-plus years now, it’s always good to see growth and acceptance of an adult-use cannabis program in any state.

The industry is net up [in] jobs, I can promise you that. 

Yeah, the industry seems like it’s booming overall, even in Illinois.

What’s happening in cannabis markets nationwide is pricing is coming down to where somebody has to make a decision to spend an extra 10 percent or 15 percent to buy in the regulated market where they get safe, reputable products. They get selection, choice and consumption types. 

I think that’s why we’re seeing continued growth in the Illinois market, as well as having a billion-dollar runway market in Missouri. Guess what, people smoke weed. They’re choosing cannabis over alcohol. They’re choosing cannabis over opioids and other shit that will kill you. That’s also a huge product, and that’s why you’re seeing growth. That’s a really exciting thing.

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