Between the pair of returning music festivals, the 420 holiday, and the store’s cameo in an episode of The Kardashians, out now on Hulu, El Paseo cannabis dispensary The Leaf preps for its busiest month yet.
Story by Emily Chavous
Photography courtesy of The Leaf
Step inside The Leaf on El Paseo in Palm Desert, and like so many other storefronts on this luxury shopping boulevard, you’ll see high-end inventory glimmering in glass-paneled display cases. Only this product isn’t fine jewelry or designer handbags — it’s premium cannabis.
The posh dispensary, co-founded by late Bighorn Golf Club chairman and local philanthropist R.D. Hubbard, marked its third anniversary earlier this year. Known for knowledgeable staff (think of their cannabis consultants like sommeliers for pot) and an upscale ambiance that welcomes partakers of any level, The Leaf has become a go-to for locals and tourists alike.
This month is bound to be one of their busiest yet: On top of the glorious return of the Goldenvoice music festivals, the cannabis holiday known as “420” unfolds April 20. “It’s the biggest day of the year by far,” reports general manager Paul Cotterell. “Last year, we probably did 700 or 800 sales. We’re going to have a DJ and discounts across the entire menu. It’s just a fun time, but it’s a busy, busy day. We always tell people to prepare for a wait.”
Adding fuel to all that buzz, the store is poised to appear in an episode of The Kardashians, a brand-new series from the Kardashian/Jenner women that premieres today (April 14) on Hulu. “I guess Kris Jenner and Khloe Kardashian had heard about us, so they wanted to make it a piece on their show to come by and shop,” Cotterell says, though he won’t reveal what purchases the pair made. “I guess when it airs, everybody will know what they bought.”
Although the 420 fête on April 20 will feature special promotions and some of The Leaf’s steepest discounts of the year, the dispensary has standing sales on a variety of products every week and provides extra discounts for veterans and Palm Desert residents. To find out more about life at The Leaf and what’s hot in the local cannabis market right now, we turned to Cotterell for some insight.
Customer service is number one: “We herald ourselves as the best-educated out there. We train our cannabis consultants to have an excellent education [about] the science behind the cannabis plant that I think far exceeds what traditional cannabis dispensaries would have their consultants go through. Our location specifically, being on El Paseo, has a diverse demographic, but for the most part, it’s a lot of 50 and older, it’s a lot of tourists, it’s a lot of foot traffic. Those dynamics alone mean that our store has to be a little bit different. We cater to a much different clientele than a traditional dispensary would, so that means professionalism has to be up, customer service has to be up.”
The menu is curated: “We have [developed our] menu by listening to our clientele. A lot of shops know what works in California, but that may not necessarily work in Palm Desert, for a more affluent, elderly community. Things that may work great in Northern California or even on the coast may not apply here. So, we’re doing our research and defining what our customer needs rather than saying, ‘Here’s what we sell, and here’s what you’re going to buy.’”
Gummies are hot sellers: “Our flower does extremely well, but by far, [the biggest sellers are] the gummies. Being a tourist market, it’s all about ease and discretion but also the medicinal side of the gummy for therapeutic relief. If somebody’s battling an ailment, we have a lot of different options that cater to that, too. The older crowd may come in with some aches and pains, maybe arthritis, maybe they’re battling something — gummies are the easiest approach. Our top-sellers in the store, day in day out, month after month, are sleep gummies for sleep aid.”
Cannabis can be a substitute for your nightcap martini: “There are a lot of competitive beverage companies out there with cannabis drinks that don’t necessarily have the same sensation [as alcohol] but are very calming, very easygoing. So we’re seeing a big trend toward that. We offer a pretty expansive list of beverages that are suitable for somebody who wants to stop drinking wine and wants to pivot to something they can still enjoy in the evening with their friends.”
Giving back is part of their strain profile: “We support FIND Food Bank. There are sales that we do where a certain amount of the proceeds will go to FIND Food Bank. On a personal note, hunger is something that affects everybody, and I think it’s the best way for our resources to affect an entire community — not just pockets of a community. It’s really disheartening to hear that there are kids out there who walk into school, and kids around them would never know that they’ve gone starving or there’s no food at home. That’s a big one for us. That, and our community front-liners and our veterans. That’s the main focus. We really do try and give back, and those are important ways.”
Delivery is available: “We definitely cater to delivery customers, especially during festival time, and on 420 [April 20] specifically. Our standard delivery is about 30 miles from the store, but we will deliver outside that radius with a delivery fee. To order, you can go to our main website or use Weedmaps, which is one of the big platforms that a lot of people purchase through. We typically deliver within 60 minutes, but you can certainly place your order and [reserve] the timeframe you’d like — a couple days ahead or the day ahead. We’ll probably have close to a hundred deliveries [on April 20].”