Bainbridge Island’s first and only retail marijuana shop could pass for an art gallery or café with its natural light, neutral color scheme, vinyl music and refurbished wood décor, if not for the smell of marijuana.
Even the name, Paper & Leaf, doesn’t reek of weed clichés.
Owners Steve Kessler and Brendan Hill held the company’s grand opening Wednesday, after having a soft opening for friends and family June 20. The 1,800-square-foot store is just off Highway 305 in the industrial park at 8040 Day Road.
Although state regulations won’t allow more than one retail shop on the island and Paper & Leaf won’t have competition within a 30 minute commute, it is doing business a little different from other pot stores around the Sound.
Shoppers won’t find candy-like edibles for one.
While islanders strongly supported legalizing marijuana, there was a concern about can candy edibles appealing to children and minors, Kessler said.
About 70 percent of the island’s voters backed Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in 2012, compared to 56 percent statewide.
Instead of candy edibles, Paper & Leaf has liquid products customers can drop directly into their mouths or use to bake.
When using products for the first time, Kessler suggested taking it slow.
“I always tell people, ‘Less is better,’” he said, especially with edibles that can take up to two hours to take affect.
They are all locked in wood and glass cases on the walls and not behind the register. Producers, including several locals, have their own case with a variety of strains.
More than half of Paper & Leaf’s producers are in Kitsap or North Mason, Kessler said.
Product not only arrives faster with closer producers, he added, it’s a way of supporting other local business.
Marijuana isn’t the only local item Kessler and Hill want to hang on the wall.
One long, blank wall by the store entrance will eventually feature artwork from local island and area artists. The first exhibit will be a history of cannabis, Kessler said, although future exhibits can be unrelated to marijuana.
The art is part of a goal to create a relaxed atmosphere at Paper & Leaf.
To add to the vibe, customers can talk with staff or among themselves — as some did Wednesday — at a long table made from reclaimed wood by the local Coyote Woodshop.
Even with a relaxed feel, security is tight.
There are 28 cameras throughout the parking lot and every room in the business, except the bathroom. Kessler and Hill also had motion detectors, automatic locks and broken glass sensor installed.