Hall of Flowers cannabis trade show in Cathedral City showcases cannabis businesses – Desert Sun
Cathedral City was a hotspot for the cannabis industry this week.
Hundreds of cannabis brands and retailers gathered in the city on Wednesday and Thursday for the Hall of Flowers trade show, an industry-exclusive event designed for businesses to network and showcase their products.
Located inside the former Burlington Coat Factory, the trade show transformed the building into what looked like an Ikea for cannabis. Booths displaying a variety of products ranging from edibles to vape hardware filled the building, attracting all sorts of industry professionals.
“It’s really a place for … brands to meet buyers, for buyers to meet brands. It’s a classic trade show, (business-to-business),” said Dani Diamond, founder and CEO of Hall of Flowers. “Before a store can sell a product, a brand needs to sell the product to the store. So now they can see everything under one roof. There’s anything a store needs.”
This week was Diamond’s second time hosting Hall of Flowers in Cathedral City. He said the trade show allows people who have heard about Coachella Valley’s cannabis industry to see it first hand.
“For the valley in general, Cathedral City in particular, this event (brings) the entire industry from the entire (United States),” Diamond said.
There were around 396 booths for cannabis brands and around 58 booths for cannabis technology and retail, according to Hall of Flowers’ directory. Many people who managed booths said they had a good time at the event.
Dee Sidhu, marketing director of URSA Extracts, has attended multiple Hall of Flowers trade shows. He said it offers brands the opportunity to display themselves and show where they’re headed.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed … watching brands take it seriously and go beyond slapping a name on a box,” he said.
He added the trade show has increased in production value over the years. The next event is scheduled for Toronto, Ontario in Canada on Sept. 13 and 14. Hall of Flowers also has shows planned for Santa Rosa on Oct. 4 and 5, and Las Vegas from Nov. 15 to 18.
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Amy Medina, who lives in Desert Hot Springs, attended Hall of Flowers for the first time this week. She is in charge of sales in Palm Springs for GoodGood, a cultivation facility that offers products like pre-rolls and flower.
Medina said Hall of Flowers helps local businesses as “a lot of people do come and check out new brands.” Her criticism was that she wished it were longer than two days, and had more events.
“It’s just more of a brand awareness [event], it creates that,” she said. “It does help … it definitely brings people to town.”
She added that the event reminds her of the region’s most well-known music festival.
“When everybody asks me about where I’m at, especially some people don’t know what Hall of Flowers is yet … they’ll be like ‘What, what is it?’ and I’m like it’s kind of like the Coachella of cannabis … it’s the Coachella of potheads,” Medina said.
Hall of Flowers also had an equity grant that paid the cost of a booth for three Black, Indigenous and people of color-owned brands in California, according to its website. The recipients were Blaqstar Farms, Dose of Saucy and Naughty Dabs.
Atiba Boswell, who is in charge of operations at Blaqstar Farms, said the grant allowed them to show representation for minority communities. He said the trade show has been amazing for networking.
“Before we even got here, we were onboarded with 10 new stores,” he said. “So before Day 1 talking to anyone, through some of the (Hall of Flowers) board members, some people have already committed to onboard Blaqstar products in their stores.”
But people in the industry that didn’t have booths also attended the trade show this week. Laura Russell and Sherry Dudeck came from Oregon to network and to learn about the cannabis industry in California.
Dudeck is the co-owner of Root Pouch, which sells fabric planting containers made from recycled water bottles that can be used to grow cannabis. Russell is responsible for Root Pouch’s sales.
“The cannabis business in California stays in California, in Oregon it stays in Oregon,” Dudeck said. “So coming here was a good way for us to learn about what the California growers are going through, what they need, what they require.”
They described Hall of Flowers as a “premier” trade show.
“Just the quality of how they put the show on — from their advertising, all the media here. Just, it’s organized,” Russell said. “The booths look beautiful. It all looks very cohesive and dealing with the … Hall of Flower people has been seamless.”
Dalia Shankman, co-founder of Ally — which sells a lockable box for cannabis storage — traveled from Canada to attend the trade show. She said it’s exciting to see innovative and stylish brands.
“We’re trying to establish a presence in the states right now, so I’m here to kind of promote the brand, make some connections and I love seeing all the brands that I follow on Instagram that I look up to,” Shankman said. “I show them the box and I’m like ‘look how well your product fits inside our box’ so I can kind of build some partnerships, maybe do some cool cross promotion on social media.”
She added she’s happy to be among her peers in the industry.
“I’ve never been to a cannabis event before at this scale, and all the people I talk to (are) either over the phone or email,” Shankman said. “So it’s so nice to be face to face with people who are passionate about the industry, want to take it to the next level and legalize it across the United States — because in Canada, we’re legal.”
Nearby residents raise concerns with smell, traffic
In addition to booths and a food court outside, the event had set up a consumption area for attendees to test out samples. Diamond said Hall of Flowers had installed pipes to prevent the smell from getting outside the perimeter of the event.
This appeared to be effective.
But Jardin De Leones Homeowners Association, located on Gerald Ford Drive behind where Hall of Flowers took place, had raised complaints about traffic and the smell of cannabis and diesel fumes from idling trucks at the previous event in December.
Christina Baine DeJardin, an attorney representing the HOA, asked the City Council to deny a special use permit for the event at its Jan. 26 meeting. The council ultimately approved the permit, with Hall of Flowers agreeing to certain measures to solve these concerns such as setting up security in front of residents’ parking area.
In-Shape, a gym located at the plaza across the street on Date Palm Drive, also claimed to have problems with parking due to the event last year. Diamond said Hall of Flowers put a gated area there this year to prevent this from repeating.
There was other traffic mitigation efforts in place, such as a shuttle that drove people to the event from a parking area, a designated area for ride shares and people directing cars.
The Desert Sun has reached out to In-Shape and the HOA’s legal representative for comment on if Hall of Flowers addressed their concerns this year.
Businesses around Hall of Flowers benefited from the event, according to Councilmember Mark Carnevale. He said he noticed increased business at his restaurant, Nicolino’s Italian Restaurant, and surrounding restaurants at the last trade show in December.
“When I was in there, I would see food coming in continuously. The food trucks they had there were efficient, but it was just not enough in there to handle all the need for the food,” he said. “There’s hundreds of vendors in there and each vendors have two, three employees in there, maybe more.”
He added that it also brought revenue to gas stations and hotels.
Ani Gasparyan covers the western Coachella Valley cities of Desert Hot Springs and Cathedral City. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.