As the world delves deeper into an all-digital reality, stores selling tangible technologies are having difficulties staying afloat. Just look at Blockbuster video stores. And due to this pervasive digitization, one analog-based business in the Bay Area has resorted to a radical rebranding in order to keep the lights on. Because for them, the stakes have never been, um, higher.
Amoeba Music’s flagship store in Berkeley, California opened its own recreational marijuana shop last month, aptly named “Hi-Fidelity,” as a means to keep business booming. So, now, you can pick up some top-shelf cannabis to go along with your limited-edition vinyl nostalgia.
“Music, in some ways, is such an uplifting product for humans,” Amoeba co-founder Marc Weinstein told Billboard, “and we thought, weed is just another inspirational product that we can get behind with our hearts and souls.”
The Berkeley Amoeba shop, which opened way back in 1990, began experiencing a slump in sales in 2012. That’s when Weinstein and co-founder Dave Prinz got the idea for hybridizing the record store with a pot shop. (Before legalization, the San Francisco Amoeba location in the Haight was already serving as a hub for medical marijuana card evaluations). Six years later, city officials approved their application for a medical marijuana dispensary clinic, which was fast-tracked for recreational usage due to the passage of Prop 64. And last month, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín was in attendance for the soft opening and ribbon-cutting event for Hi-Fidelity.
“We want to be a full spectrum cannabis dispensary,” Chris Garcia, curator of Amoeba Music, continued to Billboard. “A hemporium, if you will, where we have everything from pet products to flower.”
Of course, with the lofty visions mentioned above, the new pot shop will need space to operate. And that has come at the expense of the jazz and classical sections of Amoeba, which the Hi-Fidelity shop now occupies. But capitalizing on California’s legalization of recreational pot is expected to outweigh sales of Mozart and Charlie Parker vinyl records(here we thought they were complementary products!) According to Weinstein, the new business is projected to yield $10 million per year, versus the roughly $5 million per year the Berkeley shop sees from music sales.
So, that’s good news for the dying breed of record stores. And if selling and advocating for recreational marijuana usage is the key to keeping our music shops open, then consider us Cheech and Chong.