Only a stoner’s throw from its old location, the smoke has cleared from HempWise’s relocation and remodel.
Now at 971 Embarcadero Del Mar – nearly adjacent to its old building at 6590 Trigo Rd. – HempWise has expanded its inventory of hemp-based clothing, bath and twine products to include jewelry and glass art. Employees of the original HempWise store, which opened in Isla Vista in 1998, said the old building leaked.
“The new HempWise building has a lot of perks,” said Reed Olmstead, HempWise manager. “There’s more exposure, it doesn’t leak when it rains, there’s more space and it feels more open. It’s the difference of 12-foot ceilings versus 8-foot ceilings at the old place. The only drawback was the hassle of moving in general. We have so many products and we had to find places for everything and make it look right.”
Olmstead said the new store combines HempWise with Mystics, a clothing and novelty store which used to be located above the International Market at 6551 Trigo Rd. Both stores shared the same owner.
HempWise’s new location formerly housed a Primetime Video and DVD, which closed last year. Pita Pit, a fast-food restaurant, took over and renovated the site in late April 2004, but only used approximately one-third of the original property.
“We saw the rest of it and decided that the remaining two-thirds was the perfect size for us to combine both stores in one building,” Olmstead said. “This building is much nicer and it is much easier to just manage one store.”
Olmstead said the relocation cost approximately $10,000, which covered moving expenses and improvements to the new property.
“Surprisingly, the move has gone very smoothly,” Olmstead said. “Our customers have been very understanding and very receptive to everything. Everyone seems to think we did the right thing.”
Olmstead said he believes the move has been good for attracting new business as well. He said the new location is exposed to more traffic and draws in more business than the old property did.
The property also has a parking lot, which the old store did not. Olmstead said HempWise is already planning to use the space for events.
“We are trying to do a lot of interesting things with the parking lot,” Olmstead said. “Al, the owner, was speaking with the DJ of KRS-One at their last show and they are interested in doing a show in the parking lot for the students. We’ll be doing some great things in the parking lot when the weather gets nicer.”
Despite his optimism about the future of the store’s new location, Olmstead said he misses the patio the old store had.
“It was nice to sit there during the day and watch people go by,” Olmstead said. “That is the only thing I miss about the old building.”
Claire Schneider, a HempWise employee, said she is also happy with the new store’s location.
“Working at the new building is about the same as working at the old one, but there’s more to watch outside here,” Schneider said. “It’s cool working here because a lot of funny people come in here and I get to meet a lot of people.”
Kelly Lindsay, a frequent HempWise customer, said she likes the new location more than the old.
“I visited the old store about once a month, whenever I was in Isla Vista, and I visit this store pretty much the same amount,” Lindsay said. “I like the new store; it’s easier to get to.”
Gustavo Rocha, a Pita Pit employee, said he thinks Pita Pit business has been better since HempWise moved in next door. Guylherme Carravetta, also an employee at Pita Pit, said he agrees.
“People go there and I think more people see us here,” Carravetta said. “It’s helped our business to have them next door,” Carravetta said.
Olmstead said he hopes business continues to be just as successful as it has been since the move.
“We are really happy to be here and in this new building, and I am really glad that everyone has been so receptive,” Olmstead said. “I hope to be here for a long time more.”