RISE puts emphasis on people, earns Best Cannabis Dispensary

Since the products at cannabis dispensaries are very similar, you might wonder what makes one dispensary stand out from the rest.

When you visit a RISE Cannabis Dispensary, you'll see the difference pretty quickly: It's the people.

“What's really different is the amount of time and effort you put into your people,” said Tim Hawkins, vice president of retail field operations at Green Thumb Industries, which owns RISE. “Hiring the right people is a massive part of our job.

“We hire the best and brightest out there and educate them,” he added. “They're very knowledgeable — if you have a question, pretty much anyone in that dispensary should be able to answer you, or find someone who does. It really is about our people. We invest in them greatly.”

RISE Dispensaries earned the Best of the Best nod for Best Cannabis Dispensary in the Daily Herald's Readers' Choice contest.

There are nine RISE dispensaries in Illinois, several of them in the Chicago area, including Naperville, Lake in the Hills, Niles and Mundelein, where RISE opened its first dispensary for medical use in 2015. The Naperville and Mundelein locations have both medical and adult use offerings, while Lake in the Hills is just adult use.

Other Illinois RISE locations are in Effingham, Joliet (where there are two), Canton and Quincy. The company also owns cultivation centers in Rock Island and Oglesby.

“We continue to attempt to match the demand with more supply,” Hawkins said. “So far this is still a growing and booming Illinois market. We have not seen a falloff of demand by any means. We're excited for what the future brings in Illinois and beyond.”

Green Thumb, which was founded in 2014, is based in Chicago and has grown into a major national presence in cannabis cultivation and retail. It operates 65 retail locations across the U.S. and has licenses for 114 in 14 markets, mostly in the Midwest and East Coast. Green Thumb also has 16 manufacturing facilities.

“We continue to grow,” he said. “We enjoy being in markets that are limited license markets; the state issues ‘X' number of licenses, so we know then how much competition we have, and where they are.”

Cannabis legalization is still relatively new in Illinois — adult use began at the start of 2020 — and an excellent customer service team can provide valuable assistance to visitors who might not know how to start and what to buy.

“When it comes to our teams, we make sure they're educated to speak about cannabis,” Hawkins said. “This is a product most people are not highly educated about, or have not been using cannabis for a very long time. For us, it's greeting first time customers or someone who is not as educated and making sure they have the information to arm themselves about making choices about cannabis.”

Some customers might want to ask a lot of questions, others might want to make a quick stop during a lunch break. Either way, RISE employees are ready.

“A dispensary should be an inviting, happy place to be,” he said. “We help people find their wellness through cannabis. By having employees who are happy with their job, engaged and like what they're doing, that certainly sets the vibe when you walk in the store.”

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