Following the legalization of adult-use marijuana in 2012, the cannabis industry has seen a surge in creativity and innovation. While many companies have focused on creating THC-infused beverages reminiscent of the alcohol industry, Jim Roberts, owner of The Bohemian Chemist in Philo, California, took a different approach. Drawing inspiration from the success of small wineries, Roberts built a small, vertically integrated cannabis business that combines elements of a boutique winery with a cannabis club. This article explores how Roberts applied lessons from the alcohol industry and developed a unique membership program for his cannabis brand.
Creating a Unique Brand:
Jim Roberts, a microbusiness license holder, harnessed his experience in cannabis cultivation, inspired by his mother's work growing medical marijuana. Located in Mendocino County, known for its wine country and the Emerald Triangle, Roberts saw an opportunity to integrate a cannabis brand with the existing businesses at The Madrones, a Mediterranean-style compound. The property housed several tasting rooms, guest accommodations, a restaurant, and a gift shop, making it an ideal setting for a small family boutique cannabis business.
The Bohemian Chemist primarily focuses on its branded products, including various cannabis derivatives. Due to the small-town location and seasonal foot traffic, the store carries limited flower options and concentrates mainly on its flower. Additionally, Roberts aims to support other craft brands that align with the vision of The Bohemian Chemist. Interestingly, Roberts discovered that many winemakers in the region use cannabis, highlighting the cultural connection between the two industries.
The Surprising Customer Response:
Roberts encountered surprising reactions from tasting-room patrons and guests at The Madrones Inn. Some visitors initially expressed disinterest in cannabis, only to return the following day seeking relief for various ailments or reminiscing about past experiences. The approachability and inviting atmosphere of The Bohemian Chemist's store played a significant role in changing customers' perceptions. To further enhance the experience, Roberts recently opened a consumption lounge at The Madrones, providing a space for guests to enjoy cannabis products.
Introducing The Bohemian Chemist Cannabis Club:
Inspired by wine clubs offering exclusive benefits and events to members, Roberts had long planned to establish a similar program for his cannabis brand. In April, The Bohemian Chemist launched its debut membership box, "The Alchemist." This program offers members preferential access to limited-release products, including rare cannabinoids, landrace varietals, and genetics. The membership will include three boxes per year: The Alchemist, The Summer Solstice, and The Harvest, each showcasing different aspects of the company's offerings.
Membership Benefits and Expansion:
Beyond exclusive product access, The Bohemian Chemist plans to include additional items in the boxes, adding value beyond the subscription price. Members will also receive perks when visiting the Philo-based store in person. Currently, the company's branded products are available in select California stores, and Roberts aims to reward reliable retail partners with geographic exclusivity. While the initial distribution of the membership boxes will be through wholesale channels, Roberts envisions direct customer sales in the future.
Jim Roberts has successfully built a unique cannabis brand by drawing inspiration from the wine industry and integrating it into his small, vertically integrated cannabis business. By introducing The Bohemian Chemist Cannabis Club and its exclusive membership boxes, Roberts aims to provide cannabis enthusiasts with preferential access to high-quality products while driving customers to the physical store and retail partners. As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, innovative approaches like this pave the way for new consumer opportunities and experiences.