When we think back to the great California gold rush, we often see images of grizzled prospectors chipping away at desert mountains with pick axes or running sifts and pans through river currents following mad dreams of unfathomable wealth. We don’t often consider where they got the pick axes, the sifts or the pans, but the providers of those products were every bit as essential to the gold rush story as the more recognizable gold diggers.
California’s modern green rush is thankfully more reliable than the historic gold rush, relying more on knowledge and skill than luck (not to say that all of these weren’t factors to some degree in all of the California rushes). But just as we rarely considered the makeshift hardware stores in unincorporated townships that made the pursuit of those gilded dreams possible, we frequently consider only the plant-touching side of things when discussing the cannabis industry, finding it easy to overlook the integral role of business operating strictly in ancillary products and services.
What Are Ancillary Products and Businesses?
If you’ve ordered from Master-Minded before, not only do you likely recognize us as an ancillary business but you almost definitely run an ancillary business of your own. Master-Minded proudly specializes in the distribution of high quality ancillary products for smoke shops. To any curious guests just passing through, ancillary smoke shop products are defined by their supportive role in relation to the actual plant that exists as the axis of this industry. This means that, despite being able to order wholesale water pipes, dab rigs, and all manner of smoking paraphernalia from Master-Minded, you’ll never be able to purchase herb from us.
The Economic Benefits of Ancillary Companies
There are some distinct advantages in working strictly with ancillary products that you’ve most likely enjoyed if you’re operating your own brick-and-mortar or online smoke shop. The strange legal twilight zone within which cannabis exists typically means plant-touching businesses need to contort to fit a slew of strict regulations and guidelines. Businesses that deal strictly in ancillary products don’t have it easy per se, but the road to legal legitimacy is less strenuous for these supportive companies… and often much less expensive.
Dispensaries are subject to steep fees for licenses beyond the standard business license required of your local smoke shops. So, for entrepreneurs and self-starters just trying to get their foot in the door of this industry, dealing only in ancillary products is often the most attractive option.
The Full Spectrum of the Ancillary Side
When we think of ancillary businesses in this industry, our minds immediately consider online and local smoke shops, but this is just a corner of the vast field that encompasses the ancillary side of our industry. We need to also take into account all of the manufacturers, technology developers, legal teams, payment processors and marketing firms that work alongside and within this industry, making everything possible behind the scenes. All of these specialists need to work together to make one of the largest industries in the world work as well as it does, especially considering all of the unique obstacles inherent to it.
The Emphasis on Specialized Knowledge
While a trip to a local dispensary can be illuminating, especially for customers completely new to these kinds of products, there’s a certain specialized knowledge that comes from getting to know your local smoke shops as well. For a period of time in California (where Master-Minded HQ is based), dispensaries were prohibited from selling ancillary products such as dab rigs and water pipes (just as smoke shops could not sell cannabis). There was a defined border between the local smoke shop and dispensary atmosphere. During this time, a novice visiting their first dispensary could easily be sold on a less-than-premium experience by a well-meaning budtender who, while an expert in the plant-touching side of things, maybe only had passing knowledge of smoke shop products and supplies.
Without rigs and other products onhand to demonstrate, it was easier for the average budtender to simply suggest a wax pen over a comprehensive rig setup, resulting in what we’d call a “fast food sesh.” With those regulations having since relaxed, it’s much more common to walk into a California dispensary today and find decent smoke shop products and knowledgeable staff to introduce more fulfilling experiences. But there’s still a certain sense of specialized knowledge you can expect when walking into a local smoke shop that’s unlike the average dispensary visit. Just as a clerk at a smoke shop may not be the best resource for strain effects, the average budtender is likely not as knowledgeable about ancillary products as your local smoke shop manager.
The Futility of the One-Stop Shop
And this precision knowledge is at the heart of pretty much every ancillary facet of this industry. You won’t get the best cultivation techniques and advice from talking to your average budtender or smoke shop clerk, but there are entire companies devoted to selling cultivation equipment and agricultural nutrients who, under the banner of their company, never touch a single plant. These shops can offer a library of expert information spanning genetics to methodology. And this is just one example. This industry is just so massive and nuanced that there isn’t really a one-stop-shop worth satisfying anyone beyond the casual cannabis tourist.
Lest it feel like we’re pitting one facet of the industry against another, business is booming because of the differences between ancillary companies and the plant-touching side. When you’re busy perfecting strain genetics, you don’t have time to painstakingly navigate legal red tape, but you can bet there’s a company that can handle that for you. Businesses offering ancillary products don’t just make the plant-touching side possible… they make it easier.