About the Store

The History of 4:20 Friendly

“What's your story?”. This is a question that we are frequently asked, but we don’t always know how to answer it. Long story short, we took a gamble and we won the lottery.

4:20 Friendly is owned and operated by independent small business accountant, Carol Ehrhart, and licensed Veterinary Technician, Alissa Taylor. Not exactly what you expected, right? If you had asked us prior to November 2012, we wouldn't have expected it either. Firmly within the middle class and happy in our chosen professions, we never expected the change of events that lead to owning a Legal Marijuana Retail Store in the state of Washington. Then...

In November 2012, the State of Washington put Initiative 502 on the ballot. On the same ballot, Washington voters were also deciding over Referendum 74, otherwise know as Marriage Equality. The two created a “perfect storm” and both were passed due, in large part, to a larger than normal voter turnout at the ballot box. Carol & Alissa worked hard on Referendum 74 with various organizations in support of Marriage Equality and through that work, they met many others working on Initiative 502. We cannot tell you the pure exhilaration that the passage of R74 gave us! The State of Washington validated our relationship and we could get married! Then the vote for I502 came about and, lo and behold, the voters also decided that safe, legal marijuana should be available to adults! Both votes were historic. As we sat with the results we asked ourselves, why not?

Okay, we were sort of joking in the beginning. But then, Carol did what she does and started running numbers... We could do this! The Washington State Liquor Control Board (now Liquor and Cannabis Board) posted the application and we went to work. Registered with the IRS, we set up an LLC with Washington State and in December 2013, applied for the “lottery” to become one of the first legal recreational weed dispensaries in Washington State. Then we waited.

But not for long! Our business plan was simple, Marijuana was LEGAL and customers shouldn’t feel like they were breaking the law by visiting our store. We wanted to create a safe, welcoming environment to visit. We wanted people to ask questions and experience the best of what Washington growers had to offer. We quickly discovered that finding a location wasn’t going to be easy. If we could find a location that met the qualifications (1000 feet from an arcade, school, day care center, etc.) the rent doubled that of any other business looking to locate there, and that was only IF they would even consider you! After many discouraging phone calls, we sat down and talked, what if we built the store on our own property? A quick call to the City of Spokane verified we had the correct zoning, and in March 2014, we broke ground.

In March we broke ground, but it would be 2 more months before we found out if we won the lottery. We also knew that, unlike most stores in the state, we were building from the ground up.

For us, winning the cannabis lottery was more then just being lucky; it was a privilege. We were going to be among the first in the United States of America to represent the world of legal cannabis! Not only was this a great privilege, but a huge responsibility. Failure was not an option.

After taking several deep breaths and celebrating with an amazing steak dinner, we jumped in with both feet not really understanding what we had gotten ourselves into.

After the initial application came the real one: background checks, financial checks, tracking down all of Alissa’s speeding tickets, hiring contractors, and getting permits... ALL while working full time. We were stretched to our limits! Add planning a wedding to all of that and there you have our timeline of 2014. Did you know it takes 5 engineers to put in a concrete slab? Neither did we. We had hoped to be open in August, and then September. October came and went. After exhausting all of our resources, stepping onto the verge of bankruptcy, planting trees in frozen ground in the middle of December (months after we had planned), we finally opened on December 30, 2014!

With the help of family and friends, WE DID IT! Against all odds, WE DID IT!

And it snowed.

Yes, day one it snowed. In the midst of getting our first inventory into the store, we were outside with shovels clearing the parking lot. We had one display case, that carried product from BBB Farms, HD Edibles, Fantasy Farms and WOW Weed. We had our local community coming in and celebrating our opening with us. It was a truly amazing day!

As I write this, we are coming up on our three year anniversary. Our little store has changed a lot since the beginning. Where we originally had one display case, we now have five. We have expanded our line to include product from over 40 vendors, we employ nine budtenders, we are medically endorsed, and we are continuing to grow and improve our location each day. Each year we celebrate April 20th and July 10th with a private party to feature bands and celebrate our industry. But more than that, we have no regrets. This has truly been one of the most amazing adventures in our lives, and we are thankful to have had the privilege to be one of the first cannabis stores in the nation.