More than the name is changing at Substance Cannabis Market, the recreational marijuana retailer in Bend formerly known as Bloom Well.
Jeremy Kwit, company president, is also renovating a building on S. Third Street, the former home of Trade-N-Tools, into a third company retail shop. Plus, he’s turning a property at NE Division Street and Revere Avenue into a cannabis “experience center” and coffee bar.
Kwit said he consults with a group of informal advisers, but the changes are his own making.
“I don’t sleep a lot, and I think a lot about what we’re doing, 24 hours a day, eight days a week,” he said. “I think my vision is to ensure that we change the social fabric in a positive way, not just for the folks who are our customers, but for their children and generations to come.”
He said the new name reflects a change in attitude toward his business’s primary commodity. Bloom Well, still listed as the company behind Substance, according to Oregon corporation records, began as a medical marijuana dispensary four years ago.
Most of the other 19 recreational retailers licensed in Bend started the same way before opting this year to become recreational marijuana licensees.
“The evolution of our brand identity and iconography is to move cannabis out of the purely botanical or wellness realm, as it was while we were operating as a medical-only facility, and into a lifestyle brand,” he said Dec. 20.
That’s not to say that medical patients, who represent 15-20 percent of his clientele, are no longer welcome, he said. Medical marijuana cardholders may purchase cannabis products at a discount at Substance retail shops, including the existing two on NE Division Street and Empire Boulevard.
Substance, Kwit said, is a synonym for significance, important or valid. Changing the brand identity moves the product, marijuana, into the “realm of normal lifestyle brands,” he said. The company incorporated in August, and the name change took place in fall. Kwit said that taking the name Substance reclaims its message from that of substance abuse.
“If that was the interpretation, it sure would be ironic, especially since we’ve been fighting against stigma around cannabis for years now,” he said. “We are, if anything, taking back ownership of the language to strip away stigma.”
The new retail shop, located at 61406 S. Third St., just north of Powers Road, may open in February or March. Development plans on file with the city of Bend show a 2,912-square-foot retail shop on the site, provided Kwit obtains a retail recreational marijuana license from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The Bend Community Development Department approved the plan in May.
Kwit said he already employs 26 people, with six more coming to the Third Street location. He said expansion is necessary to survive in the cannabis business.
“We don’t have any representation or presence on the south side of town, and I’m not convinced a client or somebody is gonna drive by six other dispensaries to come to the south side,” he said.
The third change in Kwit’s business model is the targeted opening in January of a place where cannabis consumers may learn more about the plant and meet socially with others of like mind, he said. The building, 1,800 square feet adjacent to the Substance retail shop on Division Street, will have a coffee bar in the northeast corner along with displays about the natural history of marijuana and how it affects humans. Consuming cannabis there is off limits, but Kwit envisions lectures on cannabis by cooks and cultivators, as well as a gift shop, in the space.
Eventually, the building could be a place where marijuana is consumed, if the Legislature moves in that direction. A bill that would have approved cannabis clubs and special-event permits died in committee this year.
“We just want it to be a fun environment, truly, where folks that enjoy cannabis can connect with other folks who enjoy cannabis,” Kwit said. “We are moving away from the speakeasy culture and into the realm of the public house.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7815,