Not in your wildest dreams would you have imagined Barneys New York Inc., that glaring symbol of opulence and high-end decadence, going down the cannabis road. But here it is, and the road Barney's took is gilded with gold and silver tributes to weed culture, such as a sterling silver pot grinder retailing for "only" $1,475.
The century-old chain of luxury department stores based in New York City is opening its very own legal cannabis shop-in-shop (also called a "head shop") in March at its Beverly Hills, California flagship. Other locations in California will follow. A head shop in NYC is a distinct possibility.
Barneys has named its luxe head shop, The High End. In so doing, Barneys has gained the distinction (or is it, notoriety?) of being the first major U.S. retailer to offer-up cannabis and cannabis products.
The High End is being promoted as a "luxury cannabis and wellness concept shop." And why is a brand famous for all things luxurious dipping its feet in cannabis waters?
"Barneys has always been at the forefront of shifts in culture and lifestyle, and cannabis is no exception," said Daniella Vitale, Barneys New York CEO and President.
Vitale said the time seems ripe to branch out into the once unthinkable marijuana market because of changing and more favorable attitudes towards marijuana. Then, there's the marketing pressure on bricks-and-mortar retailers to offer locations ideal as backdrops for Instagram and Twitter selfies.
"If someone is going to come into a physical store, they really expect more than product, because product, unfortunately, is available in a million different places," said Vitale. "We want to make sure there is an entertainment value here."
"Social media happens in an environment, it happens in a restaurant, in a fitting room. It's not happening by watching someone at their desktop shopping online. We need to make sure we're creating a backdrop for that."
Customers at The High End will feast their eyes on a $950 Bong (a variation of a hookah), stash boxes by jewelry designer Martine Ali, joint holders or roach clips by Good Art Hlywd and handblown water pipes by Siemon and Salazar, a California glassware studio, among many other high-end pieces. Prices are, of course, befitting of Barney's (which is to say they're expensive).
And, of course, cannabis products will be available in plenty. Beboe, whose tasteful products have led to its fame as the "Hermes of marijuana," will be at Barneys, and will sell an exclusive silver version of its rose gold vape pens and pre-rolled marijuana buds.
This article was first published in IBTimes US. Permission required for reproduction.