420 Advice from Cannabis Retailers

420 advice for retailers

As 420 approaches, every cannabis retailer is preparing for a safe, successful holiday.

The focus is simple: draw in tons of customers, provide them with an outstanding experience, and maximize profit margins. But the process to achieve an optimal 420 holiday takes significant planning and execution from top to bottom.

To find out how top dispensaries are winning 420, we gathered real advice from cannabis retailers across various U.S. markets. Below, they reveal what separates a remarkable 420 from a mediocre one.

April is blooming with deals

The first thing that comes to mind when we think about 420 are the deals, discounts, sales, specials, and bargains — whatever you call them, lower prices are important. In fact, 71% of all 420 transactions included a discount in 2022.

However, holiday deals don’t just happen on April 20th, they can (and should) span multiple days, if not weeks, to ensure everyone gets a chance to shop lower prices. Sean LaMarche, Retail Marketing Manager at The Fire Station said, “We normally run promotions on 420, but last year was the first time we spread that discount over three days.”

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By opting to offer specials on 4/18, 4/19 and 4/20, The Fire Station effectively minimized overcrowding on 4/20. “We saw a lot of business over those first two days and when 420 hit, it was still busy, but it wasn't unreasonable,” adds Sean.

the fire station dispensary checkout

Rochea Monteleone, Retail and Customer Experience Director at The Pass, takes a similar approach to long-term discounting.

For us, 420 is not just one day — the weekends are book ended. It’s not only additional revenue, this strategy allows us to accommodate customers that live far from our shop and can't come in on April 20th because it's a Thursday and they can’t take off work.

Rochea Monteleone, Retail and Customer Experience Director at The Pass

Whether it’s a few days or a few weeks, dispensaries that extend 420 promotions see higher revenue, more manageable crowds and an appreciative customer base.

But consumers aren’t the only ones shopping for killer deals on and around April 20th.

Dean Warner, Manager at Green Point Wellness utilizes the holiday to secure more affordable inventory.

420 doesn't just mean retail discounts. Suppliers are working to move the needle on their end and take advantage of 420 to boost their sales and give out good deals, which is a great opportunity for me as a buyer.

Dean Warner, Manager at Green Point Wellness

Holiday discounts extend from seed to sale. Growers and suppliers capitalize on higher volume sales by discounting to retailers, who in turn pass their savings onto consumers.

Cultivating loyalty long before 420

Rochea says it best when describing the key to fostering loyalty at her shop:

“One of the pillars of The Pass is being better than ourselves. We don't need to chase everybody else, we just need to continually be better than ourselves day over day."

Cultivating dispensary loyalty year-round is an often underestimated ace in the hole when it comes to pulling off a successful 420 event. Rochea says “We get a lot of repeat business, we have a lot of loyal customers and we have a lot of replenishment customers that drive in from neighboring states because of where we're geographically located.”

That sort of loyalty isn’t built overnight, but it’s a fantastic resource to lean on when promoting a holiday like 420.

When we look at it in our planning, not just for 420, but our day-to-day leading up to 420, we know we have an audience that travels for our brand. This happens because we’ve built trust and relevance.

Rochea Monteleone, Retail and Customer Experience Director at The Pass

When customers are traveling vast distances to purchase your products, you reap the rewards, especially on 420.

The Pass dispensary

Another equally important type of customer loyalty relates to the 420 celebration itself. If you throw a killer holiday party the year before, there’s a great chance you’ll see many attendees return year after year.

That is what’s happening for Life Flower Dispensary in Denver. They hold an annual 420 event that is always sure to draw a crowd.

Our customers are very loyal and they know we put on a good event. We have customers who gravitate to our events and actually plan ahead to make sure they can be there.

Laiah Walsh, Marketing Director at Life Flower Dispensary

It’s one thing to hope your 420 event is appealing enough to cover costs and generate substantial revenue, it’s another to be certain. The best way to instill confidence in yourself and your team that this year's 420 will be a hit is to lean on the loyalty of satisfied patrons from prior years.

Anything is possible with the right team

In a 2022 report, Headset found about 55% of budtenders will turnover within a given year — that’s 8% higher than the national average!

cannabis employee turnover
Source: Headset

Staff retention and training are critical to dispensary success, and not just because it can cost up to 33% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them.

An event like 420 is where you can clearly see the value of a well-trained staff. They're able to handle the crowds and leave an overwhelmingly positive impression on holiday shoppers.

One way The Pass leverages its staff’s capabilities to improve the customer experience is by offering additional ways to place orders. Rochea says, “Given the size and tenure of our staff and their proficiency in workflows and customer service, we process a solid number of overnight orders. There are days where we come in and have lots of overnight orders ready for pickup by 8:00 AM.”

When employees are capable of more advanced workflows, like processing numerous online orders before your doors even open, you can minimize 420 foot traffic and still keep revenue potential high.

This sort of staff camaraderie is noticeable at Life Flower Dispensary as well.

A lot of the staff really enjoy working on 420 event days. The time goes by faster, it's a lot more fun and there's good energy. So staffing isn't really an issue because it's such a fun day to work.

Laiah Walsh, Marketing Director at Life Flower Dispensary

When your staff is having fun, your customers will too.

But it takes more than a solid budtender training program to curate and retain top talent. To truly win over the hearts of your employees, Rochea says you need to “give your staff the opportunity to share feedback and feel like they're a part of something.” She adds, “Ignoring their contribution and the potential influence that staff has on business is where a lot of retailers go wrong.”

The Pass dispensary staff

Though it may seem like a cliche, a staff at any business is a team. If everyone understands their impact and works toward winning, the whole team has fun and the business succeeds.

Anybody can do snacks. Anybody can buy lunch. Roll up your sleeves and talk to customers, help restock, check customers in, straighten up and keep the dispensary ready to serve so budtenders can do what they do best — help customers!

Rochea Monteleone, Retail and Customer Experience Director at The Pass

Bringing the cannabis community together

420 events range from basic discounts to large scale concerts. The way your store celebrates will depend on numerous factors, like customer base, budget, and event experience.

But you don't need to throw a massive, expensive party to have success. A more simple approach can be just as effective.

crowd view at 420 dispensary event

For example, Life Flower Dispensary holds an annual 420 celebration complete with live glass blowing, high-value giveaways and free pizza from Blue Pan Pizza’s food truck.

Green Point Wellness has also seen 420 success with a more chill 420 event vibe.

We can't make 420 overly serious, right? There's some fun to be had in this space and this industry in general. In the past we've done cookouts where we have our own grill and we'll just give out free burgers, hotdogs and soft drinks.

Dean Warner, Manager at Green Point Wellness

Cannabis is a social experience, so host events that bring people together and provide an opportunity to learn and connect. By focusing on creating an inviting atmosphere to everyone in the community, from experienced cannabis connoisseurs to curious newcomers, you can create a dispensary experience that truly stands out and makes a positive impact.

Build your 420 plans

View the example 420 Dispensary Promotion Calendar

Ready to make this 420 the highest yet?

420 is a crucial time for the cannabis industry, and retailers have the opportunity to stand out by following the advice of experienced industry leaders.

We'll finish with the most practical advice of all...

Don't leave 420 planning to the last minute. Even though it can be hard to plan ahead in cannabis, it's important to have some kind of structure and strategy in place to make sure you’re successful.

Laiah Walsh, Marketing Director at Life Flower Dispensary

Now is the time to put these insights into action and make this year's 420 the best one yet for your dispensary! Big thank you to the featured dispensaries for sharing your insights with us. Please check them out below and if you have any advice you'd like to add, send your suggestions to marketingteam@flowhub.com.

420 dispensary advice logobar

The Fire Station, Michigan

Established in October of 2019, The Fire Station was the second medical marijuana dispensary to open in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

A few short months later, they were the first to offer recreational products in the UP. In early 2020, they started offering delivery to customers across the entire peninsula.

The Fire Station is locally owned and operated and dedicated to serving the community with high-quality cannabis products, education, and exceptional customer service.

Read The Fire Station's customer story.

The Pass, Massachusetts

The Pass is a vertically-integrated cannabis business in Massachusetts. Their Berkshires campus features a retail store, indoor and outdoor grows, and processing facilities.

With a focus on growing and selling their own quality products, The Pass is the embodiment of “Farm to Label.”

Read The Pass's customer story.

Green Point Wellness, Maryland

Green Point Wellness has two locally owned and operated dispensary locations in Maryland. Their mission is to improve the quality of life of the people in their local communities.

They put this mission to work by offering the most cannabis strains of any dispensary in the state of Maryland.

Learn more about Green Point Wellness.

Life Flower Dispensary, Colorado

Life Flower Dispensary is a staple of Colorado cannabis retail. They've been around for nearly a decade and carry a huge organic cannabis selection.

Life Flower's Denver location is adorned with stunning artwork, while the interior walls of their Glendale dispensary are lined with rare and beautiful Beetle Kill Pine.

Nick Headshot

Nick Rudy

Nick is a content writer, creator and editor in the cannabis industry. He helps cannabis retailers start, grow and expand their dispensary businesses. On the weekends, Nick enjoys 1906 Chill drops and long walks on the beach with his Dalmatian, Lady. Connect with Nick on Linkedin.

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