John Flanders and Mike Forakis, owners/partners of nine CBD Emporiums throughout the Valley – including one Ahwatukee – see no end in sight to growing.
They predict there will be 20 CBD Emporiums throughout the Valley by year’s end.
CBD – short for cannabidiol – is becoming a more accepted remedy for various common ailments in households across the country where once it would have been frowned upon.
And that, the men say, is because there remains widely held misconceptions that CBD is another term for marijuana.
“Yes, it’s one of a 100 identified compounds in the cannabis plant but unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is not psychoactive. It’s about health and wellness. It doesn’t give you the sensation of getting ‘high’ and it’s not addictive,” explained Flanders.
And therein lies the confusion for many, including one Ahwatukee woman who berated the owners for bringing “the devil’s weed’ into her neighborhood.
“In the three months we’ve been open, 99 percent of the people walking through the doors are open and curious and welcoming,” said Flanders. “She was the 1 percent, and she said she was offended we were located near her church. She didn’t want to hear the difference.”
The lack of discernment between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana isn’t unique to Ahwatukee.
When the duo opened their CBD Emporium near the food court at Paradise Valley Mall in May, Flanders was there when a mall shopper stood at their door shouting, “Marijuana, marijuana” over and over.
“Being a CBD store, you get mixed responses from people who don’t understand,” said Flanders. “And the negative responses are usually due to lack of education. To compare us to marijuana is like confusing a human being and a whale. Yes, we’re both mammals, but that’s the one connection.”
Explaining the difference between CBD and THC necessitated Flanders to begin the discussion at home.
“My mother is a conservative East Coast Catholic, and to her, CBD meant marijuana, so when we decided to open our stores, that took some educating,” he said.
It was his mother who was behind the design that Flanders and Forakis, a Mesa resident, came up with when opening their chain of CBD Emporium stores beginning with the first two that opened on the same day in October 2018: Lake Havasu and Surprise.
“We designed the store for my mother,” said Flanders. “It feels more like a Revlon counter, and we have consultants, not salespeople.”
There is an airiness and lightness to Ahwatukee’s CBD Emporium. With the ash wood flooring and the spare and well-ordered display cabinets of the same shade, it offers a comfortable appearance and atmosphere.
Showcased are the various varieties of CBD products available at this storefront, and others available through their CBD Emporium website.
Ahwatukee’s CBD Emporium store manager and main wellness consultant is Ahwatukee resident Linda Meyer.
“Everyone that walks into our Ahwatukee location is pleasantly surprised. They love the clean, bright look of the store and are happy to see so many quality products to choose from,” said Meyer.
“We also have many customers that are happy to have a place right in the neighborhood,” she added. “So many people already use CBD and want a place to purchase products that they can trust.”
Meyer said many customers tell her they prefer the storefront to buying blindly online.
“Another advantage of having a storefront as opposed to purchasing online is that you can ask questions and really become informed about how CBD works and how it can help improve one’s quality of life, and that of our pets as well,” she said.
And, yes, there is CBD available for pets. Products like Kurativ CBD Juicy Chicken Jerky Dog Treats that “reduces stress and anxiety” and assists overall health.
Kurativ is just one of the curated brands CBD Emporium owners hand-selected for their Arizona stores. And their Select CBD Salmon Pet Drops can be applied over food or added to water and contain natural vegan ingredients.
All products at CBD Emporiums are made from high-grade hemp plants grown in the U.S., not low grade ‘industrial hemp’ plants that may include harmful toxins and generally result in a poorer quality CBD.
Nestled inside the display cases at the Ahwatukee CBD Emporium are CBD tinctures, capsules, gummies, edibles, bath bombs, sprays, lotions, salves and vape pens.
“Personally, I don’t like vaping because I don’t believe in inhaling anything into your lungs, but if you have strong anxiety or strong pain, vaping works much faster,” said Flanders, who recently left for Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro – his second mountain scaling in his quest to climb the World’s Seven Summits.
Describing the CBD Emporium as “family-friendly,” Frakus said all sales are to customers age 18 or older.
“It’s our mission to provide the best information and education to assist our clients to live a better life, and improve their health and wellness through CBD,” said Frakus, reciting the business’s mission statement.
It doesn’t dissuade these two entrepreneurs that the CBD market nationwide is booming.
Forbes reported that the CBD market was expected to be a $2.1 billion market in consumer sales by 2020.
The magazine reported that was a 700 percent increase from 2016 for the hemp-derived CBD products. Others were quoted as saying they estimated it to be a $3 billion market by 2021.
CBD oils are among the more popular items sold. CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and infused with herbal blends and naturally-extracted essential oils like coconut or hemp seed.
Their CBD Emporium products are produced from non-GMO plants.
No medical marijuana card is required to purchase CBD products, most of which contain the disclaimer, “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.”
CBD Emporium is passionate about their desire to improve health and wellness, and are upfront in stating the products sold “may or may not help with your injury or illness. However, we can make no claims for curing anything. CBD is well recognized for benefiting health and wellness. CBD may also assist with symptoms related to many ailments and injuries”.
For many, their own experience keeps them coming back to purchase CBD for a range of health and wellness issues.
“At our Ahwatukee CBD Emporium, already 30 percent of our customers are repeats,” said Flanders.
Forakis noted: “We’re often asked why brick and mortar. There’s a lot of misunderstanding and in our stores, we’re consultants, educators and coaches, we’re able to help explain the best application and dosage. And we feel we’re catering to people who don’t want to go to a smoke shop or dispensary for CBD.”
CBD Emporium is located at 12020 S. Warner Elliot Loop. Information: 480-590-1559 or CBDEmporiumAZ.com.