It’s been a dizzying eight months since I first reported that Bluhen Botanicals had launched an ambitious local hemp and CBD operation. Within five months they’d expanded operations and secured a $30 million influx of funding from an international company and their potential reach went world-wide.
They are unique in that they control the product from farm to consumer. It begins with selected farmers who grow the hemp to their specifications. The company is involved in testing, research and production of the various products. This is not a CBD store, it is a hemp and CBD production company.
Today Bluhen celebrates the opening of its flagship retail location at 111 East Jackson Avenue. Starting today, their products are also available online. The celebration includes their role as presenting sponsor for the first ever completely sold out Rhythm n Blooms Festival which cranks up later today.
At just over 4,000 square feet, the new retail store will offer their full line of products, including “full spectrum hemp extract oil, softgels,premium hemp flower, pre-rolls, hemp vaporizers, oil, and more.” You’ll also find “a lounge, community meeting and event space, and a café featuring hemp seed-infused food and beverages.”
It’s perhaps the food that is most surprising. While it’s not a restaurant, the store features a nice selection of menu items including a cold cut sandwich and a garden sandwich. Urban Woman tried the Garden Sandwich and said it was amazing. You’ll find a couple of salads, hummus, a meat and cheese tray and more. I absolutely loved the Bagel and Lox and the Sunflower Butter Toast. They offer coffee, tea and a limited selection of cocktails, craft beer and wine.
For those who know high quality local food and beverage providers, it’s easy to understand why the food and drink is so good. Working with the location is “Paysan Bread, Phoenix Pharmacy, Holly’s Gourmet Market, Elkmont Exchange, and PostModern Spirits. Other local merchants and artisans that will provide food, beverages, apparel, pottery, and pet treats include Jon Newman and Jeffrey DeAlejandro, Vienna Coffee, Jackson Avenue Tea Company, Frog Juice, Sarah Shabero, River Dog Bakery, Mighty Mud, and Brigid Osterling.”
The business is also part educational center. The staff is ready to answer your questions about CBD and hemp, but they will also host events designed to expand public understanding of the benefits and the science behind it. Of course, they are also prepared to provide the products referenced. A good start understanding the developments in the industry may be found in this excellent article from earlier this week in the New York Times.
I spoke to co-founder and CEO Joe Fox and General Manager, Amy Kendziorski about the opening and the excitement was contagious. Joe said:
We wanted a non-traditional retail experience and wanted it to be educational and welcoming. It’s not just about CBD. Hemp has so many applications from construction to hemp seed for food. We call this location a ‘wellness center.’ It’s a place for people to gather and discover a health component to every dish of small batch artisinal foods. We’re not a restaurant, but a place with food offerings where people can learn more about hemp.
The retail and wellness cafe allow us to see how people interact with hemp. It is such a new industry that there is no play book. This space gives us the opportunity to make more educated decisions on how to move forward. Tennessee has some of the friendliest hemp legislation in the country (that makes it all possible).
Amy who, like most people in the young industry, is new to the business, has a background in retail and started with the company in January. She said they simply want people to come in and feel welcome. She says you won’t find pressured sales, but more relational and informational selling.
Sanders Pace Architecture designed the space that includes educational panels, product displays, a grow room, counter and lounge or restaurant area. John Sanders and Michael Aktalay did the design work for the firm, FORK Design built the bar and Build Knox Construction built out the space.
They are officially open today with their full regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Friday and Saturday 10:00 PM to 9:00 PM and Sunday from Noon to 6:00 PM. Stop in to see them, sample the food and learn a bit.