WATSONVILLE—Watsonville’s first retail cannabis outlet, called The Hook, opens Friday. The 3,600-square-foot warehouse is located on a stretch of road on Hangar Way in a quickly growing part of the city that includes the Slough Brewing Collective and Santa Cruz Cider Co.
Co-owner Bryce Berryessa says the space inside The Hook was modeled on a retro-80s motif, which includes display cases built from hollowed-out arcade video games, with the aim to be the “funnest” dispensary in the county.
More importantly, Berryessa says he wanted to offer knowledgeable, personalized service for products that are grown and produced locally.
“Our goal is to sell cannabis as cheap as we possibly can to the masses,” he said. “We wanted it to be a great experience that wasn’t pretentious or can make people feel uncomfortable.”
In addition to flower, The Hook also offers wellness products such as CBD oil and tinctures.
Berryessa’s business also has a smaller location in Capitola and the Tree House dispensary in Santa Cruz. He also owns several growing operations.
The Capitola and Santa Cruz locations were the first dispensaries to be a part of Think Local First, and were the first dispensaries to get their Green Business certification, Berryessa says.
“Local ties are incredibly important to us,” he said.
This philosophy extends to the art in the business, with most produced by locals.
Berryessa has been a part of South County’s cannabis scene since it was legalized five years ago.
His was the first licensed cannabis cultivation business in the City of Watsonville, and he was part of the mayor’s advisory committee in 2015 when the City was looking at ways to regulate the industry.
“Retail was kind of a dream,” he said. “We’re really happy to be able to come and do something special for Watsonville.”
The time seems to be right for retail cannabis in the city. Berryessa says that a large percentage of his customers in Capitola come from Watsonville, and points out that Santa Cruz Naturals, which opened a dispensary in Pajaro in 2019, is thriving.
General Manager Stephanie Kimitsuka, who also describes herself as “chief haggling officer,” says she is tasked with connecting with as many local growers and producers as she can, thus keeping prices low and supporting the people who live and work here.
Some 50% is “hyper-local,” Kimitsuka says, and a high percentage is considered local. That’s important in a region based on agriculture.
“It’s not just THC that you’re selling, there’s a whole story behind the products,” she said. “The whole point is to source flower that is locally grown that is super awesome that we can pass on the savings.”
Kimitsuka says she plans to hire staff that lives locally, and wants to have a Spanish speaker on duty at all times.
“We really want to do right by Watsonville and the community,” she said.
Marketing director Bailey Blackney says the entire business—from the ease of ordering via the website to the in-store customer service—is designed to streamline the cannabis purchasing experience.
“What’s really important is for our customers to know they will be taken care of even before they step in the door,” she said.
The Hook Outlet is located at 11 Hangar Way in Watsonville. It is open from 11:30am-7pm every day. For information, visit hookoutlet.com or email [email protected]. The business is scheduled to hold its grand opening celebration on Nov. 6.