As a writer I’m always asking, “what if ?”

As an Enthusiast for cannabis-derived medicinal products I asked myself;

“what if a different market focus and a different approach was taken with retailing CDB products ?”

With the inevitable change in Federal laws concerning cannabis (come January it seems like a perfect bi-partisan project to me) this is a good time to look at different retailing strategies for capitalizing on the mass-market potential for CBD products.

Here I scatter some nuts and bolts from the world of mass market retailing – specifically focusing on a CBD sales channel for

GROCERY STORES—particularly chains.

Though I label my sketch of a CBD program a “retail thought experiment,”

There’s nothing experimental about the main elements it uses:

Product. Merchandising. Placement 

These are the key components I focused on while doing Marketing/Sales

along with store design ( check stand areas)

for 18 years on behalf of a magazine distributor to upscale/specialty grocers around the country.

My efforts revolved around projects with Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fresh Thyme, New Seasons, Berkeley Bowl, Central Market in TX even Aldi –among others.

In my opinion in order to maximize the sales of your CBD products you want to strive to be at the check stands, the Point of Purchase area—-the number one Impulse Purchase Zone in the grocery store.

The check stand fixture pictured above is an example of the type of merchandising vehicle I helped design and place in these stores. This is the area you seek to have your products.

I can guarantee if you can get them placed here you’ll see at least a 300% increase in sales volume if you’re already somewhere else in the store.

Or find you have to radically readjust your sales projections should you find a spot at the check stands.

So here’s what my theoretical program build looks like:


For this discussion I’m using CBD Pet Products. 

Why? Because people love their pets. They often take better care of them –then they do of themselves when it comes to matters of health.

And the category is rapidly expanding in sales—with more attention to customized care for pets.

They also have less regulation.

They’re not technically formulated for humans so they have fewer protocols to satisfy for certification. And grocers may feel more comfortable putting these products up there first knowing they’re combining two hot categories: CBD and pet products.

To me it’s a good foot- in- the- door kind of approach. You make it easier for grocers to get involved with your offering—especially if there’s a good margin for the retailer.

My suggestion is you go after the stores with several products or Lines. Not one product but a number of them.

You can approach this as a distributor with various brands or a manufacture who goes direct with their own products.

Or what I would suggest trying:

offer to do Private Label manufacturing for folks like Kroger, Albertsons and Lidl for instance. Think of how you can integrate your CBD manufacturing with their private-label natural banners.

Ideas for Lines: 

Below are some ideas off the top of my head for an eclectic line of pet products:

  1. Sparrow: a gentle daily formula like a tincture in a dropper form for domestic pets. Dogs, cats, pigs, birds, rabbits… A general supplement kind of approach that can be added to their water or fed directly into their mouths.

  2. Drama: this is a Rescue Remedy- influenced product treating the trauma that an of-the moment incident creates. Fight scenarios: dog on dog, cat on dog, dog on raccoon. Or a long trip. Or just a sensitive creature. It works on the animal’s emotional plane to soothe upsetting states.

  3. Prince and Princess: Male and female biscuits for dogs. Vegan-based and specifically formulated for each gender—they help the teeth, gums and digestion. Your dog can’t get enough of them.

  4. Savory Balm: a balsamic salve that treats wounds, scratches, burns, rashes…wherever some topical treatment makes sense. All natural ingredients like olive oil, beeswax, herbs and minerals are formulated to compliment the nourishing and healing CBD. Think homeopathic remedies like Stop Sting.


The next building block in this program is the merchandising vehicle for your lines. A Fixture.

If you can infuse… essence- of- Apple Store, like the MedMen dispensary in Hollywood…

…into a dedicated fixture – your visual merchandising approach–

for the Point of Purchase

..something that adds a positive aesthetic component to the retailer’s existing check stand area…

…you’ve increased the likelihood off success for you and the retailer.

You wrap the “pitch” for your products around a Check Stand program featuring a fixture you’ve created to showcase your line and drive sales.

Since the purchases at the check stands are characterized as “impulse” buys…

with CBD on everyone’s mind you can exploit typical customer behavior which has a lot do with rewarding themselves and automatically looking for something to catch their eye.

You could come up with a MODULAR design like you see below—something that can be retrofitted into an existing set up.

In this particular example you can spice up the set by adding a space for a small cooler that can be filled with… your CBD water? Your soft drink?

And you give this fixture to the retailer


In lieu of slotting fees you can offer this as part of your strategy to help the retailer choose you.


High volume sales are supposed to be what check stand areas deliver. But new consumer buying habits means the traditional products

…magazines, candy, gum and soft drinks…

are experiencing declines and irregular patterns in their sales.

With the mass marketing of CBD on the horizon you can offer smart retailers a way they can capitalize on the wave and re-charge sales in their impulse zone by reshuffling products at the check stands.

And one of the ways you can help your case is to give the retailer a fixture combing great aesthetics with great function for great sales.

Of course there are always details.

In you contractual dealings you want to be sure to protect your investment.

It has to stay at the check stands, other products can’t be put on it without your consent…things that like that.

You’ll also have to work out fulfillment. Is it a turn -key program—with the retailer filling the shelves with the product you send UPS or Fed X?

Or does the retailer expect the fixture to be serviced? Is that something you can do?

Or can you afford to farm fulfillment out to the 3rd party the chain already uses to merchandise various products—from magazines to kitchenware?

Grocery stores have their own kinds of logistics and expectations pertaining to their providers—so you’ll have to work that out individually with the retailers whose interest you awaken.

But if you can dig in and strive to customize the program for the retailer…

…the right product in the right place at the right time

…makes it all worthwhile.


I’m an Enthusiast without a home– in the cannabis industry.

But I’m happy to look at working with anyone in it around consulting or various projects. Please feel free to get back to me with any questions.

Here are some previous posts where I looked dispensaries –their layouts and products.

Dean Balsamo




  • The drawings here are by Colorado resident Craig Christenson, an engineer/designer I’ve worked with for 15 years on hundreds of projects for retailers of the caliber named above.

Craig’s email is



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