The wheeling and dealing has started for lottery-winning pot-store locations.
Seattle-based C & C Shop, which struck out in the recent lottery, announced it bought Bremerton’s Better Buds, a lottery winner.
“We placed another bet on this new industry’s future,” said Pete O’Neil, spokesman for C & C, which applied for stores in Bremerton, Lynnwood and Seattle.
O’Neil’s team bought the assets of Better Buds from owner Dave Comeau for $150,000. Comeau also gets $10,000 per month, or 10 percent of the Bremerton store’s net revenue, in perpetuity, Comeau said.
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The lottery is expected to kick off a flurry of activity — a “green rush” — pot entrepreneur Ryan Kunkel called it — as losers try to partner with winners for the state’s proposed 334 stores across the state. There may only be 305 stores initially because no one applied for 29 allotted licenses, mostly in rural areas.
The state held a lottery because there were 1,174 applicants who got through initial screening vying for the 305 store licenses.
Comeau, 36, said he’s been growing medical marijuana for six years. He wasn’t an applicant who plunked down the $250 fee with hopes of winning a lottery ticket rather than opening a store.
It was tough to sell, he said. “We were gearing up” to open a store, he said.
But Comeau said he and his wife had questions about being in the first wave of stores and whether they would be paying rent without a reliable supply of product to sell.
The decision, he said, “ultimately came down to partnering with someone who can take this to the next level.”
C & C has access to capital and connections to growers, he said, that should help the store secure its supply and start successfully.
As for his windfall, Comeau said, “You can see why the lottery is a golden ticket for some.”
Bremerton was allotted just two retail stores by the state. Sixteen applications made it through initial screening by state officials to qualify for the lottery.
Better Buds filed three applications, all at 1102 Scott Ave., according to state records. That means Comeau had roughly a 1-in-5 chance of winning the lottery.
Attorneys already are advising clients on procedures and restrictions for buying lottery-winning businesses. The Canna Law Group in Seattle is telling clients to proceed “very carefully.”
State rules do not allow lottery winners to sell their coveted retail licenses. But they can sell their businesses.
The new owners have to apply for licenses and have their criminal backgrounds checked, as well as have their financial and operational plans approved by state regulators. Then they must build out their stores and pass final inspection before getting a license.
Original applicants, such as Comeau, can’t be entirely removed as owners of a business until new owners have been approved by state regulators and receive a license.
The state expects to start issuing licenses for the adults-only stores by early July.
Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or firstname.lastname@example.org