Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, My name is Rod Glupker, I am the co-owner with my wife of CBD Store of Michigan. We currently have a storefront and website with e-commerce. We carry over 60 brands of CBD. We only carry products that have been 3rd party tested. We make sure that the product potency is accurate as well as making sure they contain no heavy metals, pesticides, mold, or lead.
We ship to all 50 States. Our biggest demographic would be 50+ and sports enthusiast. Secondly, we sell a lot of pet CBD products, from dogs & cats to goats & horses.
Other customers are parents of children with ADHD, Autism, or just something to help them concentrate. Gummies are popular with them. We have gummies in full spectrum as well as isolates. Isolates have zero THC. Full Spectrum can have up to .3% THC by law in all 50 States. Do not worry, that amount will not get you high.
My Wife Liz When We First Opened
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I had been suffering from degenerative disc disease for 15 years. I have been in and out of physical therapy for 10 years. I have been on every medication the doctors could throw at me (including opioids). I had steroid injections directly into my spine. Nothing seemed to work until my wife handed me a bottle and said take this. I had no idea what it was, she just said this is supposed to work for pain. Trusting my wife, I took it and for the first time in a very long time, I felt some relief that evening.
I asked her what I took. She said CBD. I asked what CBD was. She said it comes from cannabis. I said, “YOU GAVE ME MARIJUANA?” She then explained it was not marijuana, it was hemp. It was at that point I wanted to learn more about it. So I found several courses on-line that helped me understand everything I needed to know about hemp. I started going to seminars all over the country and learning all I could. Now I teach at seminars.
Every time a friend mentioned pain or inflammation or anxiety or sleep issues. I would tell them about CBD. I would give them websites to buy it from. Many of my friends said that if I sold it, they would buy it from me. So I looked into wholesale and discovered a lot out there. I had to study all the different brands and find the best one for my friends.
I found a company that sold me 3 bottles at wholesale to try. It took me a couple of months to sell those 3 bottles, but after I sold them, all my friends started asking for more. I then started ordering $200 worth every other week. My friends would tell others and they were calling me (all this time I had a full-time job at a convenience store).
Within 6 months’ time, I went from ordering $400 worth of CBD wholesale per month to ordering $1200 per month. That is when I thought I could make a living at this. So I started working on a website. It wasn’t long after that, I decided to quit my job and start doing CBD Sales full time.
A few months later we found a storefront for lease and called the number. My wife thought I was crazy, 1st for quitting my job and 2nd for taking a chance on signing a lease for an industry that nobody really understood yet. I think you have to be a little crazy to see something that nobody else can see. However, here I am with a successful website and brick and mortar store. With over $100,000 in inventory and over 60 brands of CBD.
Today, we buy others’ products at wholesale and retail it to consumers. However, we have talked about starting our own brand. Stay tuned as we continue to grow.
Describe the process of launching the business
Launching a business with no money. I mean NO money was not easy. We had started with the 3 bottles that were free. That gave me $180 to order 6 bottles and then 12 bottles and 24 bottles, etc.
Luckily my wife was working and was somewhat understanding but worried. Spending money on a website with a credit card was not what my wife wanted, but I convinced her that it would be good for the business. She thought I was crazy, but let me do it.
That Christmas, she gave me a doctor’s bag that would allow me to carry 50 bottles with me to my appointments I started getting. Many of them were at the customers’ homes or a local coffee shop. When she gave me that bag, I knew she believed in me!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Starting a CBD business has many challenges. When we started it, it was not Federally legal. The 2018 Farm Bill passed and that made hemp legal in all 50 States, but it is still a challenge with many States.
CBD still has that stigma of being lumped with marijuana. Therefore many advertising mediums will not let you place ads with them. Social Media is very strict with what you can put on posts and will not allow advertising of CBD products. Facebook has stripped away my advertising for life, saying that I was selling marijuana on their platform (I never sold marijuana).
Amazon, eBay, and other large selling channels do not allow the sale of CBD either.
Many of my customers said they tried CBD and it did not work. My first question to them is “Did you buy it on Amazon? The answer is almost always yes. I then have to explain that they did not buy CBD, they bought hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil does not have CBD in it. It only has Omega 3,6 & 9. But will not help with their symptoms.
So far, what has worked for us to advertise are local newspapers, local movie theater, most of all word of mouth. We recently started working with an advertising firm to come up with unique ideas. We have been with them for 2 weeks and they are starting to realize how hard it is to work with a CBD business. They made a lot of promises and are failing to uphold them. They thought it would not be a problem to get us the advertising that we need. They were wrong.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We were starting to see sales grow in our store, and then COVID19 hit and hit hard. We had to close our store for a few days until we decided we were an essential business. We had to change the way we did things and started offering free shipping and curbside pickup. That kept us afloat. The Virus continues to go up and down and restrictions get lifted only to be put back on.
Our sales still continue to grow slowly. Our website continues to get sales from all 50 States. Our plans for the future are to open more stores throughout Michigan and possibly other States as we see COVID19 die off and sales grow.
We look forward to the day that the FDA will start regulating CBD. That will weed out the companies that are not compliant and will let us advertise on all mediums.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The CBD business has many other challenges besides advertising. We could not get a bank account and could not take credit cards because it was not FDA regulated. Just in the last year, some banks started accepting CBD business.
That also opened doors for some credit card companies to start letting CBD businesses to use their platforms.
Also finding a place to lease. The storefront that we are in now, we had to fight for. I had to educate the owners of the location about hemp vs marijuana. The township had to be educated before they would allow us to set foot in their town. Then the other renters would block us from being their neighbor. We sent out a lot of emails with education on hemp as well as knocking on doors to educate everyone. It took us 3 months before we finally got the go-ahead to get the lease.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We started building our website with Weebly. Later to find out that they were not CBD friendly. We lost our merchant account and the website was useless for about 6 months.
Then Square bought Weebly and Square just started a pilot program called Square for CBD. The fees were higher than traditional credit card processing but were worth it. We could now use our website for ecommerce again and also get a credit card processor in our store that would work with our website.
We signed up with Pirate Ship. A mailing service that was free to sign up with and reduced our shipping cost by 50%. I highly recommend them!
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Alternate Medical Media has a great online course to learn about CBD and the endocannabinoid system.
A book that I will never forget. Who Moved My Cheese. “A timeless business classic, Who Moved My Cheese? uses a simple parable to reveal profound truths about dealing with change so that you can enjoy less stress and more success in your work and in your life.”
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
For anyone thinking of getting into the CBD industry. You must have patience and understand that you will have to be educated in the field as well as being able to educate others before starting anything. Having money will not hurt. However, it can be done with nothing. It is not easy. Do not get upset if you run into roadblocks. Learn to overcome them.
Do your research on brands. Get to know the Farmer, the Manufacturer, the Wholesaler, etc… Study every aspect of the industry. I have already given you a heads up on many of the challenges. I wish someone would have told me about the challenges before starting.
If you can overcome all that you face getting into the industry, you can do well. This is an industry that is over-saturated with non-compliant businesses that will eventually go away. That will leave a lot of room for those doing it right to prosper. If I can do it, you can do it!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We have been taking applications for a few weeks. We hope to hire a part-time person in the interim but hope to make it a full-time position when COVID19 is no longer a hindrance. As time goes on and we look to open more stores, then we will be in a position to hire managers and employees.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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