"RELEAF" COMING SOON: After renovations, this former site of Big Red Gallery & Gifts will be home to The Releaf Center dispensary in Bentonville.
The Releaf Center
dispensary is renovating the former Big Red Gallery & Gifts building at 9400 McNelly Road in Bentonville, and Roger Song
, CEO of The Releaf
Center, said it hopes to open for business by midsummer.
Song owns a 60 percent
stake in The Releaf
Center, which received the fourth highest dispensary score
in Northwest Arkansas's Zone 1. Other owners include Kevin Frazier
, a Memphis, Tenn. veterinarian, who owns a 20 percent
stake; Matt Shansky
, 10 percent
; and Laura Frazier
, 10 percent
The dispensary hopes to be open daily, according to Song, and for the "full duration" of operating hours allowed by the Commission. It also intends to offer delivery services with as low of a "convenience fee" as possible.
Song owns Property Works
, a contracting business based in Cave Springs that serves Northwest Ark. He said that while the dispensary has not begun extensive renovations yet, his construction experience will help the business open quickly once its location is approved by the state ABC board.
In the meantime, Song said the dispensary is researching products and vendors. The Releaf
Center is also a "grow" dispensary, and it plans to grow the allowed 50 mature plants in a new building to be constructed behind the main facility on the property's three acres.
According to Song, The Releaf
Center not only plans to grow some of its own product, but it also intends to process, extract and produce its own cannabis oils and to offer these services to other dispensaries.
"Something that I’ve learned in this industry is the actual producing, where you’re doing extractions to make the oils... that’s a service that a lot of growers or dispensaries are not going to be doing," Song said. "So if there is anybody in the dispensaries that’s also going to grow their minimum [of plants], if they need their flowers to be extracted and processed, we’re going to be able to give those services to other dispensaries if they want us to do that for them."
The dispensary is also interested in selling marijuana grown in-house to other dispensaries. Song did not know any specific strains the dispensary plans to offer but said The Releaf
Center would not focus on products that are trendy within the industry, but instead on a large variety of strains and products reflective of patient needs.
"When we first start selling, it’s going to be all about variety," he said. "We want to be able to educate patients as they come in. We want to be able to say, here’s your wax, here’s your vape, here’s your oil, here’s your edible, because when they come in, it’s up to us to educate them on every single product. ... Anything Arkansas is allowing us to sell, we are going to have, and that’s our biggest key."
Song said security has so far been the dispensary's largest expense, and it's hired a "full security team" to be present during operational hours and to monitor the property and surrounding area when the business is closed.
"Even if there’s a house three miles down the road, to me, that person’s just as important to be protected [as the dispensary]," he said. "That was a major budget that we were not willing to settle or try to nickel-and-dime."
Song was born and raised in Rogers, and he said he's excited to bring the dispensary's business to the northwest part of the state.
"Now that I’m in a position where my voice might matter a little bit more, the funding we’re going to have, man ... I want to make the [area] grow and look good," he said. "I think that’s key that you don’t lose that, you don’t lose where you started, where you came from. You go back and you pay back your dues. It’s going to be the best opportunity for that."
Center, according to Song, plans to stand apart from its competition with the quality of its employees.
"It’s going to be our people," he said. "Every customer that walks in there, as soon as they walk through that front door, it’s going to be like walking into your grandma’s house. We’re going to give that vibe. I just can’t wait for people to feel like everything matters. The pain that you feel at home by yourself, where you feel like nobody is understanding you. ... I think the compassion that you’re going to feel when you walk into our clinic is just going to be astronomical."