As the cannabis industry grows in Hampton Roads, entrepreneurs like Adam Dobbins got a whiff of opportunity.
But for the CEO of the newly opened Grow Depot, Dobbins sees it as more than a moneymaker. He sees it as a way to educate others.
“It’s been really interesting; you have a lot of interesting conversations in this industry,” he said. “Everybody is curious; there’s a big buzz.”
The gardening and hydroponics store at 2404 Virginia Beach Blvd. in Virginia Beach opened Oct. 9. From lights, nutrients and soil to tents, Grow Depot stocks all the equipment and supplies to help customers successfully grow plants, whether they be vegetables, herbs or cannabis. Growers use hydroponic systems to start plants from seeds or cuttings.
“Our mantra is ‘seed to success,’” Dobbins said.
Formerly a Family Dollar, the 7,925 square-foot space also has a classroom and a wood shop. The store offers Dirt Squad, a go-to team of professionals including licensed heating, ventilating and air conditioning technicians and electricians who are ready to provide insight and knowledge to help with at-home grows, custom build-outs and plant sitting services.
Dobbins, a former Navy SEAL who medically retired following an accident, said when legislation changed earlier this year to make the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and the personal cultivation of up to four cannabis plants legal for adults 21 and older in Virginia, he and several others came together to create the business model.
“Everything that was so taboo before — everyone’s talking about it and showing their plants,” he said.
As one of the business’s largest shareholders, Dobbins is the familiar face at Grow Depot. His wife, Cheryl, works in the store as an expert for oil tinctures and all things edible.
Diagnosed with colitis, Dobbins said he delved into the cannabis industry after he tried countless medications to no avail. He said he knows veterans using cannabis for traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Different strokes for different folks,” he said.
Not to mention, Dobbins said, people gain therapeutic benefits from the act of gardening itself.
Many customers are interested in growing cannabis for private use, but are unaware how to do that indoors, he said. That’s where Grow Depot comes in.
Chris Palmerton of Virginia Beach said he is eager to learn all there is about the proper means to grow cannabis. He is in search of the most practical and optimal way to establish a home grow system.
“I’m trying to learn and gather more information,” Palmerton said. “… I’m really excited he’s jumped into the forefront and he’s someone who is reliable.”
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, email@example.com