Bellevue, Wash., a suburb just east of Seattle booming with growth, is home to some of the largest tech companies in the world: Microsoft, Nintendo, Expedia, T-Mobile, the list goes on. It has appeared on national lists for best places to live, best places to launch a business and wealthiest zip codes. It’s also home to the burgeoning cannabis industry.
On Tuesday, the latest — and fourth — retail store in Bellevue opened its doors. Higher Leaf which also has another location in neighboring Kirkland, had a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, welcoming new customers to the state’s’ fifth largest city.
The city, like many suburbs across the nation, initially fought the industry from opening shop. When Washington legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2012, the city leaders announced a moratorium on any cannabis businesses in the city limits. But after two years, the city council relented.
“We believe in personal freedom and that we can create a retail marijuana store that is not only welcoming and fun, but one that is part of a state-wide industry that has high standards of quality and transparency,” said Molly Honig, owner Higher Leaf locations. “We hope our store is a fun place to visit, echoing the fabulous quality of other retail shops, restaurants and businesses throughout the Eastside.”
Two years ago, Higher Leaf became the first marijuana retailer to open in Kirkland. And business is soaring.
“When we opened in Kirkland in February of 2015, we started with 11 employees. By December of last year, we had 27 employees in that location. Now with the our Bellevue store, my best guess is that we will have 40 employees by early spring. Business is good,” Honig said.
According to state data, Higher Leaf is already the sixth most popular retailer in the state and the highest in sales on the eastside of Seattle.
The store’s street entrance is located next to a drive-through Starbucks on 156th Ave SE and is just down the road from the Washington State Patrol office. The facility offers on-site parking and is near several bus stops within walking distance.
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And the company has been welcomed by the business community. It is a member of the Chambers of Commerce in both Kirkland and Bellevue, making it one of the first marijuana retailers to become a member of any Chamber of Commerce nationwide.
“As an organization dedicated to supporting the growth of our members, The Kirkland Chamber of Commerce is excited about Higher Leaf’s upcoming expansion,” said Samantha St. John, interim executive director of the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce. “We appreciate their community partnership and responsible business practices, and wish Higher Leaf continued success in Kirkland and Bellevue.”
3079 156th Ave SE
Bellevue, WA 98007