Florida-based marijuana distribution empire Ayr Wellness announced last month that it would purchase Chicago-based Gentle Ventures, LLC, which operates and owns Dispensary 33, in a $55 million agreement.
Dispensary 33 also has two additional locations in the Anderson and West Loop neighborhoods in Chicago.
Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Ayr, Jonathan Sandelman, said in a statement the agreement piggybacks on the company’s “existing foundation” in the state.
Sandelman said Ayr “began building just a few months ago” when the business announced an agreement to acquire Herbal Remedies Dispensaries, LLC, which owns two dispensaries in Quincy, for $30 million.
Sandelman also added that its social equity partner, Land of Lincoln, had been recently selected for a dispensary license in Bloomington. The agreement terms include $40 million in stock, $12 million in cash, and $3 million in sellers notes, as reported by a source close to Ayr.
Dispensary 33’s co-owner, Bryan Zises, previously prided himself on being the city’s last independent marijuana shop owner after a surge of corporate acquisitions swept through Illinois’ ascending marijuana industry when the state legalized the drug completely.
In an interview, Zises revealed Dispensary 33 previously passed up offers from several multi-state marijuana companies before deciding to do business with Ayr. He praised it for its financial prowess and focus on producing both talent and high-quality marijuana.
“This offer that we’ve accepted wasn’t the highest price, but it was the best for what we believe is in the best interest of the people that work for us and for the city as a whole,” Zises said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. “We did not think that we would find a partner who was a good fit, and so we were prepared to go it alone for as long as necessary. But this was really a partner who made us feel very comfortable about their approach and what they want to do.”
Zises also adds that his management team will manage the store for six months once the deal closes. He also says the acquisition will not affect the staff and hopefully get “more responsibility” under Ayr’s broad corporate model.
“Now that there’s a larger corporate entity that has multiple states and is growing fast and doing so well, I actually think that this is going to have a really good impact on our staff,” Zises said.
The informant that works closely with Ayr expressed to the Sun-Times the “talent acquisition piece is huge.”
They said, “When we’re looking to acquire companies, we’re not just looking at it in terms of assets and numbers and things like that.” The source continued, “People and talent are really, really important to us. We want to work with companies that have similar values to us.”
Although this business move rids Chicago of all its independent cannabis shops, it’s still an excellent opportunity for staff to grow in their careers with the change of ownership.
As more people purchase containers with cannabis, the state of Illinois is using cannabis-derived tax funds to provide equity programs for previously incarcerated residents.