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Partners in the Middleville location of The Botanical Co. include (left to right) Jonathan Jelks, Willie Jackson and Jarred Biggs. (COURTESY PHOTO) Partners in the Middleville location of The Botanical Co. include (left to right) Jonathan Jelks, Willie Jackson and Jarred Biggs. (COURTESY PHOTO)

West Michigan entrepreneurs to open Middleville’s first dispensary

BY Friday, September 16, 2022 04:13pm

MIDDLEVILLE — Backed by a group of business partners from West Michigan, The Botanical Co. is opening the first adult-use cannabis dispensary in the village of Middleville.

The dispensary, Botanical’s fourth store located at 640 Arlington St. and set to open in early October, includes a coalition of owners, including Middleville residents Jarred Biggs, Dennis Weiss and Kirk Weiss, and Grand Rapids-based entrepreneurs Jonathan Jelks and Willie “Willie the Kid” Jackson.

CopperRock Construction Inc. completed the build-out of the space, which cost about $1.6 million, according to the owners. 

Biggs, who led the team to open the dispensary, traces his involvement in the industry back more than a decade as a licensed caregiver and medical cannabis patient. In late 2021, he also completed the construction in Edmore of a 2,000-plant cannabis grow facility called Bigg Canna. 

At the same time, his hometown of Middleville opted into adult-use sales of cannabis, which got him interested in opening up a dispensary. 

Biggs worked with the village of Middleville leadership on its adult-use ordinance and was one of two retail applicants chosen. Middleville has capped the number of dispensaries at two. 

Owning a business in his community is “a dream come true,” according to Biggs. 

“Middleville is a small, but growing village,” Biggs told MiBiz. “It’s recently in the last couple years growing in population with a bunch of young families throughout. My family has owned other businesses throughout Middleville, so I wanted to continue that and keep our family’s name in Middleville.” 

Biggs said he’s been pleasantly surprised to see the support he has received from village leaders and the community.

“Middleville is known as a more rural, not very diverse area,” he said. “But you can see a lot of new families moving in. I’m African-American, and I thought it was really cool that Middleville approved someone like me. It’s been interesting how much the town has gotten behind someone like me, so it’s been cool to see.”

Biggs also has another grow facility currently under construction in Manistee and is working to launch his “Pablo” national cannabis brand by early October.

Jelks, whose ventures include Ambiance GR Kitchen & Lounge, Sip Coffee & Cocktails, Motu Viget Spirits and Motu Lakeshore Wine Bar in Muskegon, was drawn to the opportunity because of Biggs’ prior experience and track record in the cannabis sector. 

“Jarred Biggs has an innate knowledge of the industry and has an understanding of what’s on the precipice, and what’s currently happening and how to make one of these businesses successful,” Jelks told MiBiz. “That was compelling to us.”

Jelks said he was also interested in joining the ownership team because the dispensary is located in Middleville, which has not yet been “oversaturated” by cannabis. He also wanted to contribute to having Black ownership in the cannabis space, which is presently underrepresented in the industry.

“Our priority with this venture is to create opportunities for underrepresented communities that have been adversely affected by marijuana usage and commerce,” Jackson said in a statement. “It’s refreshing to be a part of a company firmly committed to creating real change through job creation, talent pipeline development and enhancing the ‘cap table’ to further minority ownership in this industry.”

The Botanical Co. also operates dispensaries in Lansing, Tawas and Kalkaska. The company has one of only two cannabis consumption lounges in the state next to its Kalkaska shop. 

Many leaders in the cannabis industry in Michigan consider the market to be oversaturated, as evidenced by the average price of retail medical flower, which fell to $109.42 in August 2022 from $204.79 a year earlier. 

As of Aug. 31, 1,742 recreational cannabis licensees were active across the state, which includes every cannabis use including growers, event organizers and retailers. 

“The market has definitely gone down,” Biggs said. “It happens in every market when it’s brand new then all of the sudden the supply outgrows the demand. These are times when most people are scared to do stuff but if you do take the risk and do it correctly, these are the best times to jump into it. Everything we do is top tier of quality and price range, I believe in the marketing and products we provide.”

Read 4353 times Last modified on Friday, 16 September 2022 16:47
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