The+Source – Las Vegas, Nevada


In this Growers Spotlight, we interview Andrew Jolley, owner and CEO of The+Source, a Las Vegas-based dispensary.

Andrew Jolley

The following is an interview with industry experts. Growers Network does not endorse nor evaluate the claims of our interviewees, nor do they influence our editorial process. We thank our interviewees for their time and effort so we can continue our exclusive Growers Spotlight service.


Abbreviated Article


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The+Source – Las Vegas, NV



The Dispensary



What are the day-to-day concerns?

The environment for cannabis retailers in Nevada has changed pretty drastically. When we first started in 2013, getting a consistent amount of quality product was an issue. It also turned out that the actual number of medical patients was much lower than anticipated. Those were some tough years.

Then, when Nevada legalized adult-use cannabis, we had a massive influx of new customers. We’ve nearly doubled our staff in the past few months.



Are there any issues specific to Las Vegas?

Visitors and tourists are usually unaware of Las Vegas’ policy surrounding cannabis use. It’s not like alcohol. Cannabis can only be used in private, or you risk facing a hefty fine. Gaming establishments are particularly picky because of their liquor licenses. Don’t light up anywhere near a casino!



Tell me how your online ordering service works.

We offer online ordering for pickup and delivery. We make sure our drivers are safe by verifying the customer before we deliver. We get their ID, their address, and any other useful information. Our drivers follow our set of standard security protocols when making a delivery, and, knock on wood, we haven’t had a single security problem yet.



What have you seen with your loyalty program?

It functions similarly to an airline rewards system. For every dollar spent, you acquire more points that can be redeemed later for products in the store. Our customers have really taken to the loyalty program. About 70% of our customers are loyalty rewards holders.



What’s your approach to branding and marketing?

We take a minimalist approach that focuses on the product instead of flashy advertising. We keep it simple and focus on the basics.



The Grow



Is your grow connected to your dispensaries?

One of our grows is located close to the airport, and it’s a warehouse grow. Our other grow is about an hour outside of Vegas, and it’s also an indoor grow. We intend to build a greenhouse there in the near future.



How do you deliver from your grow operations to your dispensaries?

How you transport cannabis in Nevada differs depending on whether you’re transporting medical cannabis or recreational cannabis. Medical cannabis can be delivered in-house without any need for a separate license.

Recreational cannabis transportation, on the other hand, must be conducted by a licensed distribution company. We recently acquired a distribution license in September, so we’re able to transport our own recreational cannabis now.



What environmental controls are you using?

We use high-output, commercial-grade systems that are designed for use in large office buildings or data centers. They’re very sophisticated and allow us to adjust temperature and humidity with quite a bit of precision.



What’s your approach to pest management?

Our lead grower follows a really excellent IPM regimen. We’re always on the lookout for everything, including mites, bugs, powdery mildew, mold, and anything else like that; what you might call your standard fare pests.



Do you perform extractions?

We primarily make vape pens and cartridges under the brand name “8-Fold.” We also make an array of concentrates, including wax, shatter, crumble, budder, and distillate.



Philosophy



What have been some of your biggest challenges?

Under the medical-only program, we really struggled with a very small customer base. We also saw wholesale prices fluctuate rapidly, which caused supply problems. We’ve had to roll and adapt to the industry.



What have been some of your biggest successes?

Not only have the critics’ doomsday predictions not come true, we’ve seen so much positivity come out of the community. The responses I’ve heard from customers and patients have been amazing. Day after day, week after week, we keep hearing amazing stories. People have been able to get off opiates, sleep better, deal with digestive problems, help with cancer, and more.



What advice do you have for a new grower?

First and foremost, expect to make catastrophic mistakes. That’s just a reality.

Also, avoid the temptation to only look a few weeks down the road. Plan out everything for at least 6 months in advance. That means facilities, nutrients, strains, pest management, and more.



What advice do you have for someone looking to start a dispensary?

Cannabis is no different than any other retail business. Understand your customer, your demographic. Figure out a way to meet their needs in an efficient and profitable way. Be warned, there are more rules and regulations than other retail industries, but if you understand your customers, you should be successful.

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The Dispensary


Honestly, the environment for cannabis retailers in Nevada has changed pretty drastically over time. When we first started the medical program in 2013, there weren’t a large number of cultivators, so getting a consistent amount of quality product to have in our stores was an issue.

It turned out that the government’s projected number of medical patients was way off. They anticipated around 70,000 medical patients, and the actual number turned out to be 28,000 patients. This resulted in excessive competition between dispensaries, with a lot of undercutting and extremely competitive behavior. It was a buyer’s market, which can be really hard to stay on top of. Those were some tough years.

Then, when Nevada legalized adult-use cannabis, we suddenly had a massive influx of new customers. We’ve nearly doubled our staff in the past few months. Hiring that many people is a challenging HR experience, as well as a customer service challenge. We want to keep our excellent customer service reputation.

Well, the hardest competition was before adult-use cannabis was legalized. At the time, there were 60 dispensaries in the state competing for about 28,000 patients. That means that there were less than 500 patients/customers per dispensary. Needless to say, there were a lot of very competitive tactics and a lot of price undercutting. Thankfully, those days are over.

Cutthroat competition in the early days.

Nowadays, we mainly see the standard sorts of competition you find in other retail industries. That means advertisements, loyalty programs, customer service, and other standard approaches.

We generally need to educate visitors and tourists about Las Vegas’ policy surrounding cannabis use, because it’s treated differently than alcohol. On the Strip, for example, you can openly drink alcohol in public. That’s not the case for cannabis. Cannabis can only be used in private in Las Vegas, or you risk facing a hefty fine.

You have to be especially careful around gaming properties, because of their liquor licenses. Establishments that sell liquor cannot serve cannabis. Don’t light up anywhere near a casino!

We offer online ordering for pickup and delivery. Pickup can be a really convenient way to purchase for some customers. If people order for delivery, we can usually schedule the delivery within an hour or two from time of the order.

We make sure our drivers are safe by verifying the customer before we deliver. We get their ID, their address, and any other useful information. Our drivers follow our set of standard security protocols when making a delivery, and, knock on wood, we haven’t had a single security problem yet.

We started our loyalty program on day one, on the advice of our partners at Harvest of Arizona. It functions similarly to an airline rewards system. For every dollar spent, you acquire more points that can be redeemed later for a variety of products in the store. It averages to about a 5% savings for our loyal customers.

Our customers have really taken to the loyalty program. About 70% of our customers are loyalty rewards holders, which is really impressive in my mind.

For us, we see Apple’s approach to store branding as a very positive marketing and branding style. We don’t want to copy them, but we try to take a minimalist approach that focuses on the product instead of flashy advertising. We keep it simple and focus on the basics.

The Grow


Nope, they’re actually in two separate locations. One of our grows is located pretty close to the airport, and it’s a warehouse grow. Our other grow is located about an hour outside of Las Vegas, and it’s also an indoor grow, although it has the potential to expand, as we own the land that surrounds it. We intend to build a greenhouse there in the near future.



How do you deliver from your grow operations to your dispensaries?

How you transport cannabis in Nevada differs depending on whether you’re transporting medical cannabis or recreational cannabis. Under the medical program, cannabis distribution can be done completely in-house without any need for a separate license. We have some staff who are our permanent medical delivery staff.

However, under the recreational program, cannabis transportation must be conducted by a licensed distribution company. We’ve worked with a handful of different distribution companies in Nevada for this purpose. We recently acquired a distribution license (as of September), and so we’re able to transport our own recreational cannabis now.

We use high-output, commercial-grade systems that are designed for use in large office buildings or data centers. They’re very sophisticated and allow us to adjust temperature and humidity with quite a bit of precision. We’ve gone through several Nevadan summers and winters now, and we think we have our setpoints really dialed in.

Lighting

For propagation and vegetative state, we’re using 600W CMH bulbs. For flowering, we switch over to 1000W HPS bulbs.



Grow Medium

We keep our mother plants in a coco/soil mixture, and all of our production plants in rockwool. We water and fertilize the plants through drip emitters, which makes the production plants technically hydroponic. We produce our own nutrients in-house.



Automation

We use Dosatrons for nutrient distribution and mixing. They’re monitored carefully by our staff and are set to release on a timer.

Our lead grower, Michael Cooper, follows a really excellent IPM regimen. We’re always on the lookout for everything, including mites, bugs, powdery mildew, mold, and anything else like that; what you might call your standard fare pests.

One of the benefits we found while building a grow from the ground up is that we can establish environmental controls against pests from the beginning. We don’t need to retrofit a warehouse and hope we didn’t miss anything.

We do! We have an extraction license with the state. Primarily we make vape pens and cartridges under the brand name “8-Fold.” We make an array of concentrates, including wax, shatter, crumble, budder, and distillate. Additionally, we make CBD capsules from whole-plant extractions.

“Dragon ball” distillate.

The Philosophy

We need to maintain a clean and professional image so that the public recognizes cannabis as a legitimate product, and the industry as a legitimate business.Andrew Jolley
As I mentioned before, under the medical-only program, we really struggled trying to survive while competing for a very small customer base. We saw wholesale prices fluctuate rapidly, which could make for supply problems. We’ve had to roll and adapt to the industry.

Because Nevada went from medical to recreational so quickly (in the span of 3 years), being able to project our harvests has been incredibly difficult. Our staffing has also had to greatly increase in response to recreational. It’s been a lot of hard work and persistence to get to the stability we’ve seen in the last few months.

The responses I’ve heard from our customers and patients have been really amazing. Day after day, week after week, we keep hearing amazing stories about how cannabis has improved their lives. My own friends and coworkers have tried it for the first time in the past few years, and they shared with me in private how great it’s been for their lives. That’s hugely rewarding.

“Halloweed” event at The+Source.

Not only have the critics’ doomsday predictions not come true, we’ve seen so much positivity come out of the community. People have been able to get off opiates, sleep better, deal with digestive problems, help with cancer, and more. I expected some of that, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stories and personal experiences that people have shared with us.

I have two major concerns that are related to each other:

  1. Keeping our industry clean and professional.
  2. The federal government interjecting itself into state industries.

Cannabis is a new industry. We need to maintain a clean and professional image so that the public recognizes cannabis as a legitimate product, and the industry as a legitimate business. So far, most of the business owners in Nevada have been doing a phenomenal job. But there’s always the potential for bad behaviors that could undo much of our hard work.

Dishonest behaviors have knock-on effects.

And that feeds into my concerns about the federal government. The rhetoric coming from the Attorney General and the current administration has been rather alarming. While I don’t anticipate them intervening because the effects would be extremely negative, it is a concern that our industry will be under a magnifying glass.

That said, the extreme rhetoric has caused significant backfire. Even supporters of the current administration have noticed that the rhetoric against cannabis doesn’t align with reality. Jeff Sessions is the physical embodiment of the “Reefer Madness” movement, and people are recognizing that his statements about cannabis ring hollow.

Well, first and foremost, expect to make catastrophic mistakes. That’s just a reality.

Also, avoid the temptation to only look a few weeks down the road. Plan out everything for at least 6 months in advance. That means facilities, nutrients, strains, pest management, and more.

Cannabis is no different than any other retail business. Understand your customer, your demographic. Figure out a way to meet their needs in an efficient and profitable way. Be warned, there are more rules and regulations than other retail industries, but if you understand your customers, you should be successful.

About the Interviewee


I actually started in software development with my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business and information technology. In the early 2000s, I shifted gears and moved into commercial real estate investment. Today I still participate in commercial real estate investment, but The+Source is my primary focus. My business partner Steve Byrne, manages many of our investments.

Andrew seen here with the first customer at the opening of The+Source located in Henderson.



What are some of your commercial real-estate investments?

We own and operate a couple of commercial real-estate companies:

  1. A lending company named CapSource.
  2. An investment company named EquiSource

Together we’ve invested in diversified real estate, and we own a few hotels, shopping centers, a mall, and few other things. The+Source dispensaries are actually located in the shopping centers we own, which makes us the best tenants ever!

I’ve always been a pretty big advocate for legalization, and when Nevada opened up medical licensing in 2013, my business partner and I decided to apply for cultivation and dispensary licenses, despite our very limited knowledge in cannabis.

Much to our surprise, the state of Nevada approved our licenses, and The+Source started. We brought on Harvest of Arizona as consultants and partners, and they helped us build the company from scratch. It was a very steep learning curve, but I enjoy the challenge. I got involved with the industry association fairly early on, and I became president about a year ago!

We have two locations in Las Vegas. One is located on the east side, and the other on the west side, giving us pretty good coverage of the city. We also plan on establishing more in the future. We cater primarily to Las Vegas locals, but we also happily serve tourists and visitors.

What separates us from our competition is our focus on customer service and the people. Every one of our employees is either a patient or a customer as well. We go through the whole sales process and make sure we’re providing the service and products that our customers and patients want to see. We currently have a selection of over 340 different SKUs in our dispensaries, and we’re always adding more. Each dispensary has at least 30 different strains, a large variety of concentrates, edibles, vaping products, and accessories.

Our employees are very important to us as well. Our medical director trains all the staff and and keeps them up to date on the latest scientific and medical knowledge about cannabis. We want our employees to be able to provide the best service possible.

We also like to give back to the community. Every month we hold free educational courses for 2-3 hours to introduce new patients to medical cannabis and the rules and regulations surrounding it.



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Want to get in touch with The+Source?

You can reach them via the following methods:

  1. Website: https://thesourcenv.com/
  2. Phone: 702.708.2000
  3. Email: [email protected]

Resources:

  1. Want to learn about the Nevada Dispensary Association? Check out their website here.
  2. Want to read more about some of the subjects touched upon in this article? Check out some of our previous articles:
    1. Integrated Pest Management
    2. Inside Look at Leading AZ Extraction Company
    3. Scaling Up a Boutique Grow Operation
    4. Choosing a Cannabis Greenhouse
  3. Interested in discussions about dispensaries? Join Growers Network now to carry on the discussion.

Do you have any questions or comments?

Feel free to post below!


About the Author

Hunter Wilson is a community builder with Growers Network. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a Masters in Teaching and in 2007 with a Bachelors in Biology.


  • Gary Morgan

    I finally found some time to start reading articles on Growers Network again. Thanks for this article. I enjoy reading about others stories about how they got into the business and their perspectives. I especially liked the advice to new growers. The advice to look beyond two weeks I’ll take to heart. I’ve been operating this way for some time just trying to juggle everything. It’s time I look further and start planning ahead. 🙂