This Weed Delivery Service Is Bringing 'High Maintenance' To Real Life
Kind Courier's bicycle delivery service gives new meaning to the phrase, "peddling weed."
If you've seen the hit HBO series High Maintenance (and if you haven't, like, drop everything and get on it ASAP), you've probably felt a pang of nostalgia for the days of hitting up your friendly neighborhood weed dealer. While modern dispensaries are great and all, what with their extensive stock of top-notch marijuana products, there's a personal connection that simply can't be replaced by the brick and mortar bud shop.
But what if you could have the best of both worlds? That's the idea behind the new San Francisco, California-based weed delivery service, Kind Courier, which employs professional bike messengers to get San Franciscans high-end cannabis products in an eco-friendly, more personable way. Kind Courier is the kind of service I wish I had when I lived in SF, though it sounds like there may indeed be some hope for us down here in SoCal, too.
KINDLAND sat down with Kind Courier co-founder Brian McMorrow right after his site launched in late April, to chat about the business of peddling weed via bicycle.
KINDLAND: How long has Kind Courier been in the works?
Brian McMorrow: A year and a half. My partner Paul and I cultivated for a few years together, and I was also working full-time in a software company. We’d been looking for a retail dispensary location for a couple years before that, so we discovered an opportunity to get in with a building where they created basically 16 offices approved by the city to lease and permit medical cannabis dispensary licenses as well as approved related manufacturing and cultivation.
So, I quit my job right after Thanksgiving in November of 2015, and came into this. We got our license approved that December but it required the property owner to build out space before we got final approval and occupancy. It was actually not until last summer that we got our license. But in the meantime, we’ve been working on the website and the delivery platform and our business plan, as well as doing a complete remodel of our cultivation and manufacturing and processing facility, which is a separate location. It’s all coming together at the same time.
KINDLAND: How do you source all of the products available for order through Kind Courier’s site?
McMorrow: We have a pretty extensive network of cultivators for flower. And since we got our retail license, we’ve met with and built relationships with a lot of the products and brands that we knew about, or learned about. So, we’ve been vetting a number of distributors and producers over the last four or five months to select the products that we consider to be of the highest grade on the market. But we also want to offer a range of pricing options for our customers as well.
We’re sourcing things just like any other retail dispensary location. As far as flowers go, we’re offering things we’ve obtained through our established network.
KINDLAND: I’m just looking at the site and there are so many things to choose from. Most delivery services give you, you know, a couple strains of weed and maybe a vape pen and that’s about it.
McMorrow: Yeah, we’re really proud of the offering we have. And it’s been really amazing that ever since we opened shop last month, I would say most if not all of our orders have included some form of CBD… I think that’s going to be so far, from what we can see, a key part of our target market for what people want. We've been growers for so long and CBD's remained a relatively unknown to us until just a few short years ago. But it’s become such a remarkable chemical for medicinal use that people are really using it for therapeutic applications.
KINDLAND: That’s so interesting because I have noticed a lot of my friends incorporating CBD, and for me, it really seems to boost my THC high.
McMorrow: For me, it’s more of a cerebral [high]. It helps me really kind of clarify and mellow out instead of kind of being overwhelmed by high THC content. Though my tolerance has drastically improved since I got full time into this business.
KINDLAND: Because your couriers travel by bike, it really does sound like the real-life version of High Maintenance. Was starting this business mainly about convenience or was it more about offering the personal and traditional experience of dealing with a weed dealer?
McMorrow: Yeah, I mean, we’re definitely going for an experience. I spent the last four years of my corporate (if you want to call it that) non-cannabis career in product marketing and really thinking about developing brands and brand loyalty. So we put a lot of deliberate effort into creating something we thought would be a long-term business. We didn’t want to just build something up in the hopes of selling it or sell the products we had on hand, we really wanted to be intentional about the experience we created and have it more as something people would want to be a part of.
Of course, we select products that are high-purity and we test everything on the menu. We created our own packaging, all child-resistant packaging made by a local cardboard company right over in Oakland. So it’s all locally sourced and locally made. You can get pretty much anything in San Francisco delivered at the touch of a button, but we’re conscious of the fact that we use a lot of power and energy with indoor growing, [which is why] we wanted to do something local and funky and San Francisco style. Both living and working in San Francisco, we didn't want to add more cars to our already congested streets and wanted to offset our carbon footprint as much as possible.
The experience of opening up the box and getting this beautiful package of products and flowers with our branding all over it and having it delivered by a bike courier was just all part of our vision of how we wanted our business to run. We also remodeled our cultivation facility to be as energy efficient as possible. We used closed cell foam insulation, re-wired the whole building, and upgraded to commercial power (480V) for all our lights for lower consumption. We are also looking into installing a solar roof and desalination systems for up to 97 percent water recovery as well.
KINDLAND: What has the experience been from the courier’s perspective so far?
McMorrow: From the courier’s perspective, it’s been great. One thing I wish we could put on social media are the selfies couriers have been taking with all the folks they’ve been delivering to with the box and their big smiles. They’re excited for us too that we’re launching. But they’re enjoying it. I mean, we’re getting folks that are professional bike messengers, so even though it’s hilly and the city can be big, this is what they do and they enjoy. I think this is kind of a dream for them.
KINDLAND: I know you guys have only been at this for a month, but are there certain neighborhoods in SF that have placed more orders than others? Or is it kind of all over the place?
McMorrow: Right now, it’s all over the place, though it’s been pretty centralized. We’re right downtown in the financial district of San Francisco and a lot of our orders have come from people who are down here working during the day and are on their lunch break or something. I mean, that’s always been part of our model. We wanted to create something that was a discreet delivery. We created a box that was discreet. Our logo and packaging does not have a pot leaf anywhere on it, it’s not green. You wouldn’t know it just from seeing it, so people feel comfortable getting their delivery during the day. That benefits us because we can deliver pretty much anything within twenty minutes in the downtown financial district.
KINDLAND: Do you think this model would work in a city such as L.A.?
McMorrow: I’ve thought about this quite a bit. We’ve also discussed the idea of using electric scooters or maybe electric smart cars as a way to stay close to our mission, strategy, and culture and still be able to reach a larger geographic area. That being said, I think what would be key in L.A. or SoCal in general would have to be sprinkled out fulfillment centers that are strategically located to service high-density areas. And once you get out to the suburbs, the model kind of falls apart a bit.
Right now, we’re doing these pre-configured combo boxes that change on a monthly basis, but eventually a weekly basis. We want to evolve that into a membership club. Especially after we go recreational in California, I think there’s going to be some support from the shipping carriers and that kind of thing, so it might be possible to reach a lot of people out in other parts of the state via a common carrier. That way they can still be part of the Kind Courier community but not necessarily be in a high-density area. Though, of course, we'd prefer to continue delivering our boxes exclusively by hand.
KINDLAND: OK, so there is some hope for me.
McMorrow: Yeah, absolutely.
Learn more about Kind Courier and where they deliver, here.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.