Business

Introducing Erb & Arbor: A Social Equity, Woman-Led Dispensary In The SF Valley

Introducing Erb & Arbor: A Social Equity, Woman-Led Dispensary In The SF Valley

Panorama City is on the brink of becoming the Valley’s hottest destination for recreational and medical cannabis, and it’s all thanks to the approaching grand opening of a new retail location: Erb & Arbor. Located just across the way from the LA Kings’ practice facility, the inclusivity-focused dispensary opens tomorrow, Friday, December 10th, the first of their nine-day grand opening event. 

Choosing to shirk the madness of a one-day event, the Erb & Arbor team is hitting the ground running on the inclusivity front; on each of the nine days, gift bags worth $100 will be given to the first 100 (first-time) customers. But that’s simply the tip of the iceberg of what the focused, innovative team seeks to accomplish in the cannabis space. 

“Being here in Panorama City gives us some opportunities to cater to and get more people involved that have been, in the past, disenfranchised or underrepresented and definitely underserved,” Chief Operating Officer Mauro Lara, one of the conceptualizers of the entire operation, said during a Zoom interview last week. Just about a week ahead of the opening, the enigmatic leader’s excitement was palpable even through a video call, as were the others who joined in. 

After reaching vertical integration two years back, there has been a slew of delays and obstacles preventing what was then primarily a grow operation from expanding and opening their own retail space. “I like to say it’s a combination of Covid, cannabis, and city sh*t,” Mauro joked, although he was speaking to a harsh reality faced by many cannabis businesses over the past two years. Regardless of those setbacks, the Erb & Arbor dream prevailed to a momentous point: the space is set to be the largest cannabis retail store in the entire San Fernando Valley. 

The sales floor is approximately 3,000 square feet, though the offices and backrooms add much more to that number. “This is the part where things get expensive, yes, but exciting, also. This is actually the part where now all of that work is going to finally get to be highlighted, we’re going to be able to do so much more than we have before,” said Mauro in reference to the social justice and equity focuses of the entire conglomerate company. 

“From a big picture standpoint, those are the things that we’re always going to try to prioritize and align ourselves with because everything should be as impactful as possible, while still having fun and keeping it fresh,” noted Mauro, adding that a large part of those efforts is through the brands they are choosing to stock in the store. 

On that subject, Mauro handed the mic to the Erb & Arbor manager, Diane Kessler, who has worked tirelessly to ensure the dispensary is doing everything they can on those fronts and who is featured in the image of this piece. In fact, Diane is a powerhouse for women in cannabis – you can read more about her impressive ventures and never-ending work ethic in this article by Medium.

“Since this is a social equity license, making sure that we include a lot of those brands, getting them in places that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to be, getting them on shelves… it’s a good opportunity for some of these other brands to be a part of [this],” explained Diane, who has been working in various realms of the cannabis industry since 2011. 

When scrolling through the Erb & Arbor Instagram account, we noticed a post in support of the Last Prisoner Project that offered an opportunity for donations. As it turns out, Diane works closely with the criminal and social justice advocacy and fundraising group, including having their presence in the new shop. 

“Last Prisoner Project, I’m very close with them, I worked with Evelyn [the Community Engagement Manager] a lot in the past,” she said, adding that having their brands in the store, which donate portions of their proceeds to the Project’s efforts, is a huge highlight for the team. 

“Honestly, to me, it just trips me out that there are people that are in jail for the stuff that we do every day,” said Diane. “Making sure that’s clear, making sure everyone knows, you know, there are some people that are in jail for doing what we’re doing. So having that education out there, making sure that the social equity brands are present, is a large part of what we focus on.”

Alongside those impactful brands’ products that are currently being carefully displayed on the expansive store’s shelves, you’ll find a burgeoning brand that you may have seen in a few other dispensaries around the greater LA area recently, including at Dr. Greenthumb’s 2nd anniversary event this fall: Mariment. 

Mariment is the company’s personal brand, grown just a few miles south of the dispensary location down in North Hollywood and Sun Valley. While opening the actual retail space was a two-year-long headache in many ways, one incredible thing did come out of those 24 some odd months: this cannabis flower. Without spilling any inside secrets, Mauro and one of his best cultivators, Tim Fischer, chatted about how the growing process has been integral in creating their current business model. 

“We understand that now that we can finally have that control, that we can cater the experience from how we’re growing it to, you know, how we’re choosing the genetics, how we have dynamically gone back and forth all the way from the final customer to Tim over there… it’s all in alignment and in the right manner,” Mauro explained. “We also understand that this [growing our own flower] is what creates a big opportunity because we get to be a face to the customer base instead of just a faceless brand. If we do it right and execute it correctly, it really creates an opportunity for us to make the magic happen,” he added. 

The Mariment name, chosen for its reminiscence of joy, fun, and reliability, is sure to draw customers to the new location, especially those who have already found the brand elsewhere. Plus, the delightfully aesthetic packaging tubes and jars, adorned with simplistic and alluring designs, certainly don’t hurt. With the opening of Erb & Arbor, consumers can now seek out the very people who conceptualized the Mariment strains (or are at least highly trained by those people) and learn more about the joyful high they’re about to partake in. 

As a fun highlight, the Mariment team’s joyous motto is “More Funner,” which speaks to the company’s focus on being a business that does much, much more than just business. In that spirit, Mariment offers 4-gram eighths at widely affordable 3.5-gram prices.

“We understand the experience is way more than just what’s getting burned,” said Mauro. “Cannabis should be fun, from the shopping experience to the feelings it gives you and, you know, everything in between.” 

Mark your calendars and prepare for life to get a little More Funner on Friday the 10th when the doors to Erb & Arbor officially open in Panorama City. 

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