New niche career helps customers find the best flower or edible to suit the specific experience they’re seeking.

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After Washington legalized recreational cannabis in 2012, small shops began to crop up. At first, these stores tended to consist of little more than a counter with a mix of flowers and edibles, with only one or two staffers on hand. In short, it wasn’t a personal experience and most people without knowledge of cannabis didn’t feel entirely comfortable selecting a product.

Today, it’s a different story and shopping at a cannabis store is more akin to a traditional retail experience. Whether you’re a cannabis pro, took a few bong hits back in the day, or you’ve never touched a joint, interacting with budtenders can be the highlight of the retail experience. They’re committed to helping customers find the best flower or edible to suit the specific experience they’re seeking.

First and foremost, budtenders love their jobs and are always looking to expand their own knowledge about cannabis. Like all retail employees, being a good budtender requires a friendly temperament and strong work ethic – but a passion for both the product and the industry is what sets budtenders apart from more run-of-the-mill retail jobs. They’re not simply passionate about cannabis; they’re passionate about the fact that an industry that was kept “in the dark” for so long is now celebrated and they can share their love for cannabis with customers.

Many cannabis shops provide thorough training because budtenders will inevitably spend a good portion of their days fielding questions from people who aren’t cannabis experts. Some take it a step further, for example, The Evergreen Market (which has two locations in Renton and one in Auburn) has appointed “Head Educators.” These employees, easily identified by their white lanyards, undergo more rigorous training than the average employee and take a test before earning their title. Their role is to identify customers wanting to engage at a higher level, and spend as much time with them as they need to get their questions answered.

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Legalized marijuana is still a fairly new development in the state, so many first-time users head to stores like The Evergreen Market because they want to give it a try – and that’s exactly why budtenders are so important. New users will have a much better cannabis experience if they’re provided with detailed information about dosage, different types of cannabis, and the wide variety of strands and strains. Most importantly, they’ll want to know what effects to expect when they smoke or eat their purchase. Budtenders are there to arm each customer with all that information.

Because there are so many options, a budtender can help customers narrow down their choices. In some ways, it’s similar to getting a craft cocktail at a fancy bar. A bartender tends to ask the types of alcohol we like and dislike, and whether we prefer sweet or savory, fruity or bitter. In the cannabis industry, a budtender will ask whether a customer is looking for an indica or sativa (and explain the difference between the two if necessary) and what activities they’re planning to engage in after consumption.

It can feel a bit daunting to enter a store when you possess zero knowledge about cannabis, but budtenders are completely accustomed to this type of customer and are more than happy to provide knowledgeable customer service. If a customer has never tried any form of cannabis, the budtender will want to know what feeling they’re seeking. If they have tried it, they’ll ask about how their bodies reacted. Online research is all well and good, but nothing can replace the in-person experience of communicating about the feeling you’d like to achieve.

It’s especially important to be educated when it comes to consuming edibles. Budtenders will typically caution new users to take half the recommended dose and then wait 60 to 90 minutes in order to experience the full effect. Similar to alcohol, overindulging can ruin their experience. Much like people need to learn their alcohol tolerance, they also need to establish their cannabis tolerance.

And for the eco-conscious among us, budtenders can answer questions about whether products are free of GMOs and pesticides.

Overall, budtenders and educators like those at The Evergreen Market are enthusiastic that the industry is now mainstream and can be enjoyed without stigma. They love having the opportunity to educate people about cannabis in a comfortable environment, so there’s no question any customer should be afraid to ask.

The Evergreen Market is committed to elevating the legal cannabis industry by providing a retail space where newbies and enthusiasts alike can shop for the very best cannabis that Washington state has to offer in an environment that fosters learning, exploration and joy.

DISCLAIMER: This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit-forming. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgement. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. For use by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of reach of children.