July 31, 2019

Kistner on GGB Success in Cannabis and CBD: Three Highlights

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At the recent CBUS19 Retail Re-Thought conference, Green Growth Brands CAO Ed Kistner explained why GGB is positioned for success in the cannabis industry—and why competitors may fall short.

Ed Kistner has more than 30 years experience in retail finance, merchandise planning and operations. He’s held leadership roles at both DSW and L Brands and brings a well-earned perspective to GGB’s leadership team. Kistner recently spoke at CBUS19 Retail Re-Thought, a major conference that gathered retail experts from around the country to Columbus, Ohio. Kistner’s full presentation can be seen here. Here are three main takeaways from his time on stage.

  1. Expertise matters more than location

Green Growth Brands’ main operations are based in Columbus, Ohio, where cannabis remains illegal. Despite that, Columbus has helped GGB successfully launch multiple brands, open two dispensaries, and launch dozens of CBD-focused shops.

Columbus has the highest concentration of apparel retail headquarters of any metro area in the United States. It has the third highest concentration of design talent in the nation, and the city is number one on Forbes list of top rising cities for start-ups. These factors gave GGB quick access to talent. And thanks to local consulting partners, Green Growth Brands was able to problem-solve and quickly get products in front of customers within a heavily regulated industry.

  1. Customers prefer experiences, not inventories

Before jumping into the cannabis business, GGB leaders visited more than 100 dispensaries across the country. And they saw a huge opportunity. Instead of focusing on customer needs (especially new shoppers), virtually all of them simply presented products for sale. And that’s far from an ideal shopping experience.

In contrast, GGB’s first dispensaries (The Source stores in Las Vegas) provide an experience that guides customers and inspires loyalty. Only 10 percent of The Source’s customers are from out-of-state; in a city built on tourism, this loyalty from locals shows that GGB has given them a reason to come back.

The secret? Green Growth Brands simplified the dispensary’s design and product assortment so customers wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. Categories, such as flower and concentrates, are clearly labeled to help customers find what they need. And pricing is never a secret—options are divided into clearly marked pricing levels.

  1. There is strength in diversification

When describing Green Growth Brands, Ed Kistner always points out the company’s unique business model: involvement in both the cannabis and CBD industries. While most companies choose one or the other, GGB has shown it can do both.

In the cannabis industry, profits made within a state must stay in that state. For example, all revenue from The Source must stay in Nevada. In contrast, the CBD industry has free-flowing funds, which allows Green Growth Brands to invest profits from its CBD shops into its dispensaries and cannabis brands. In the next five years, the cannabis industry is expected to generate $28 billion in new revenue from nearly 14 million new customers. By 2029, CBD beauty is expected to be a $25 billion industry. Thanks to its product diversification, GGB can be part of the success of both industries.

Bloomberg Business

"Cannabis Company Backed by Retail Fortune Eyes East Coast Expansion"

The Province

"Opinion: The future of cannabis retail is simple, integrated, and welcoming"

CBC Business

“Unlike big names in production at centre of cannabis frenzy, company plans to focus on retail side of things”

Tech Startups

"Former Victoria Secret executive raises $85 million for cannabis startup…"

The Growthop

"Green Growth Brands completes upsized raise of $85 million to satisfy investor demand."


"Green Growth Brands announced it has completed a raise of C$85 million ($65.7 million) in a private placement…"


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