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Expanding cannabis chain seeks premium corner locations


For the better part of a decade, Ryan Brandt scoured the country for Murphy Oil, looking for freestanding corner locations for their gas and convenience stores at major intersections, preferably near Walmart. He now hunts those same locations for the nascent, yet wildly expanding, cannabis dispensary business.

“We’ve done 30-plus deals for MedMen across the country. They’re focusing on the best markets — California, Florida, New York, Illinois. Just like convenience stores, they need the hard corners that people in cars can enter and exit easily,” said Brandt, now director of the real estate consulting firm BW Strategies.

Former bank locations are most coveted by Brandt for his cannabis industry clientele. They are about the right size (MedMen stores average 3,500 sq. ft.) and the buildings are highly secure.

“A bank has built-in security, and because cannabis dispensaries are largely cash businesses, they have serious security concerns,” Brandt said.

As a rule, cannabis dispensaries do not accept credit cards for payment because the public sale of cannabis is still against federal law. The Visa credit network, for instance, does not permit transactions involving marijuana products.

Though MedMen seeks freestanding location near retail centers, and not in them, retail center tenants were at first averse to adjacencies with dispensaries. In Boca Raton, Fla., Publix went to court to try to block a cannabis shop from opening near one of its supermarkets. But as investment in the cannabis industry continues to move into mainstream channels, that’s changed, said Brandt.

“Landlords have come around big-time on the issue. They see the allure of the business and they’re no longer scared about it,” he said.

Tenants that create high levels of traffic and that can afford to pay high rents on long-term deals have a way of winning landlords over. Brandt says MedMen sales range from $8 million to $15 million in their under-5,000-sq.-ft. locations. 

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