Margo Sperry has been involved with the cannabis industry, in one way or another, for most of her adult life, but her official start came as a result of good timing: When Sperry was considering enrolling in med school in 2013 to become a doctor, Oregon officials made it legal to operate dispensaries in the state. Sperry chose the latter path.
Urban Farmacy opened its doors on Feb. 14, 2014, as a medical dispensary, but expanded to adult-use as the state’s laws evolved. In this interview, Sperry sits down with Cannabis Dispensary Associate Editor Brian MacIver to talk inventory management, organic products, free-sample offerings and more.
MacIver: You carry more than 250 different products on your online menu (not including the different-sized flower packages). How do you manage such a large inventory?
Sperry: I have an inventory manager who is in charge of overseeing the spreadsheet and tracking down discrepancies, and making sure that everything is in order because that’s the No. 1 thing for taking inventory: We have to keep track of every single item.
One of the state’s laws says [inventory] has to be kept in a metal receptacle or a safe, so we built our own vault in the back, and everything has to come off the shelves, and is counted and entered in a spreadsheet and then put away. Then my inventory manager takes that spreadsheet and reconciles it to our point-of-sale system. We use Green Bits. Green Bits has an open API [application program interface] with METRC, so whatever Green Bits has is what METRC has, so it eliminates a step for us.
MacIver: On your Instagram page, you’ve already implemented the GG4 (formerly Gorilla Glue #4) name change. What is your protocol for responding to vendor issues like that?
Sperry: Obviously, it’s important to us that we comply with all state regulations. If a product comes in that is not up to the state’s regulations, then we would either send it back to the vendor or we would work with the vendor to [make it compliant]. If it’s something as small as a name change, we would simply just work with the vendor and the testing company to get the name changed. If it’s something more complicated like pesticides, then that has to be destroyed, according to state guidelines, or handled in whatever manner the state wants us to handle it.
MacIver: You invite some vendors that are currently on your shelves to the store to offer free samples to customers. How do you choose which vendors to host?
Sperry: My intake manager Alisha communicates with vendors who are interested in showcasing new products or calling attention to that vendor’s brand. We select brands that we feel are high quality and desirable to our customers. ... The market has become so competitive that vendors are doing everything they can to get their name out there. I think doing things like coming and offering samples or giving away unmedicated samples is just trying to bring more attention to their product.
MacIver: How do you vet vendor claims about products being grown organically without the federally protected “organic” designation?
Sperry: One of the things that is important to me is our relationships with our vendors. There are certain products, like with the flowers, where I really maintain strong relationships with [the] vendors myself. … A lot of [those claims I’ve vetted] … first-hand because I’ve known these people for many years; and there are some that are Clean Green Certified, and there are a few that we have to take their word for it.
MacIver: What has been your best business decision?
Sperry: One of my best business decisions was to expand our flower to reach every spectrum of cannabis customer. When we first opened four years ago, we focused only on top-shelf cannabis. Over time we realized that we should meet the needs of all consumers. Now we make sure to carry the best quality cannabis in all pricing categories.