The drive alone had me giddy. Heading northeast from Southern Oregon, I crossed over the ruggedly beautiful Cascade Mountain Range and descended into the high desert plateau of Central Oregon. The three-hour drive flew by in a mosaic of fall color on a late October day. I was on a mission for Oregrown.
I had heard about the flagship recreational dispensary from across the state. Nestled smack dab in the center of charming downtown Bend and just off the banks of the scenic Deschutes River, Oregrown boasts a location few can surpass. Snow-capped volcanoes sparkled in the distance as I walked up to the clean and unassuming building marked by a large embroidered Oregrown banner.
Inside, the welcoming waiting room offered coffee and tea, comfortable seating and walls laden with eye candy. Its decor oozed Oregon pride with local photographs and paintings. Attendants promptly passed me an extensive menu and a budtender, John, escorted me into the “adult only” area.
The soft lighting drew my attention first, accented in all the right places to create the ambience of an art gallery. Oregrown’s open floor plan and neatly organized products conveyed a sense of legitimacy. My focus went immediately to the sparkling jars, nearly 40 of them and each marked with its own colorful hand-drawn chalkboard, spread across clear glass displays. Meanwhile, a funky tune by the famous jam band Phish played in the background of the spacious dispensary.
John selected several of his favorites, offering an up-close look at their proud specimens. My mouth salivated when he opened a jar of impossibly frosty Blue Steel, tested at 29 percent THC.
“We keep somewhere between 30-40 strains on hand, about 60-70 percent grown just down the road,” Oregrown co-owner Aviv Hadar said. “We do bring in outside flower — we don’t have to — but if you see it on our shelves it is within the top 10 percentile in the state.”
As a commercial cannabis grower, I see bud in large quantities every day, and my eyes and nose told me he wasn’t lying.
“We have a selection of exclusive core genetics that we have pheno hunted, including two 30-year-old landrace strains,” Aviv said. “We grow for quality, not for quantity.”
Top-shelf flower certainly separates Oregrown from the vast array of dispensaries statewide, but its selection of edibles, drinkables, topicals and extracts hold a similar aura of exclusivity. Every product is obviously curated with intention. I stopped in at the display for the high-end PAX vaporizer, where the budtender pulled out a custom model made specifically for Oregrown. The device clad in the artwork of famed rock-and-roll artist Brian Steely and pays homage to the company’s northwest roots with a fractal and celestial filled scene. Several other spectacular pieces by the artist adorn the walls.
Oregrown: Voted Best Dispensary in Bend
“I hope that people who visit our store have highest-end cannabis experience that they possibly can,” Aviv said. “We want to be the best representation of Oregon cannabis, which we consider to be the best in the nation.”
Oregrown is the brainchild of Aviv and three of his childhood friends, Justin Crawn, Hunter Neubauer and Kevin Hogan. The retail outlet opened after nearly a year of construction and found a huge following in the community. Voted Best Dispensary in Bend three years in a row by the Source Weekly, and awarded Startup of the Year by the Bend Chamber of Commerce, their success is no secret. The Source Weekly also voted Oregrown the best place to work in Bend (with under 50 employees).
“We love our employees and staff,” Aviv said. “Oregrown is one big family and we invest a lot in our people. We look to set up careers that will go on for generations to come.”
The company has also made a name for itself by sponsoring local extreme sports athletes and events not even related to the cannabis industry. Oregrown also partnered with the Humane Society of Central Oregon to lower the costs of adopting animals.
“When you see our name at these huge local events like the Oregon WinterFest that bring in thousands of people, we want to de-stigmatize the industry,” Hadar said. “When some kid out in the middle of Michigan sees one of his favorite skiers wearing Oregrown shirt, we hope to inspire them to get out, and embrace the spirit of the Northwest.”
With shops in Eugene, Portland and Cannon Beach in the works, Oregrown’s top-shelf products will soon be available across the state.
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