Talking with West Michigan’s newest provisioning center
In any growing industry, it takes something special to stand out — Rair is a cannabis company dedicated to this ideal.
It will take this whole story to lay out all the ways Rair is unique, so let’s start at the beginning: Back in 2017, when cannabis was well on its way to legalization in Michigan, owner and CEO Patrick Frakes saw an opportunity. He always liked Michigan and had a history with cannabis, and now the door was open to step in and be a part of it all.
With a growth and processing facility in Jackson, Frakes and the Rair team have spent the past few years really falling in love with West Michigan and getting to know people in the industry and the community. Now, their provisioning centers are opening around the region, starting with Muskegon — which just opened in February — and soon growing to Lowell, Big Rapids and Kalamazoo.
In Frakes’ view, the first aspect that makes Rair special is the focus on patients and consumers, rather than being a big corporate entity raking in the cash. “We’re not looking to get rich. We’re not looking to buy fancy cars. For us, the vision of success is driven by helping people.”
Then there’s the branding, the fact they didn’t go with any cannabis puns in the name (not that we’re against that), and they don’t even use any green in the color scheme.
Rair’s most unique quality though, and perhaps the most obvious one, is right in the name: Aeroponics.
“We never put our plants in dirt,” Frakes explains. “What we do is we suspend them on a tabletop. The roots are exposed underneath in a tub environment where we’re spraying water and nutrients directly on the roots. It’s a very clean, consistent way to grow cannabis, because 70% of your potential contaminants are actually in the soil, so we’re able to grow pesticide-free as well.
“From the plants’ perspective, they love it. It’s like they’re in San Diego all the time. They have more oxygen to breathe, and they can take in the water and nutrients when they want. When they don’t want it, it just runs off.”
Already, Rair is developing fans, who all note the consistency and cleanliness of the product. This extends beyond flower — the vape pens and edibles are top-of-the-line too. Frakes said the key for edibles is homogenization, so that every piece in the package has the same amount of THC.
Beyond the product, shoppers have noticed how nice the provisioning centers feel. As one reviewer said, “The vibes and aesthetics are unmatched. I felt wealthier just walking in the door.” Of course, this is intentional. Rair wants everyone to feel welcome, safe and informed.
That even comes down to the employees, called “guides” due to their extensive knowledge and role in the company. Every one of them has gone through extensive training programs, so they know exactly how to help patients/consumers find the perfect product for them.
Take a look at the leadership team and you’ll notice something else unique: All three major divisions of the company are led by women. Ashley Hubbard is the director of cultivation; Marley Hodson is the director of processing and extraction; and Molly McFadden is the director of retail operations.
While equity is vital to Rair, this team was assembled primarily because they were the best, most experienced people for the job. And they’re not just employees — all three women also have ownership in the company, so they’re truly invested and in it for the long haul.
Next comes the uncommon way Rair talks about cannabis strains — Frakes believes the indica/sativa dichotomy is a bit outdated, as crossbreeding has exploded over the years and a vast majority of strains are actually hybrids nowadays. So instead, Rair simply tells you what effects to expect from each strain.
“What our packaging has is a description of the different terpenes in there, and what the effects of this strain are; if it makes you relaxed, but focused, or if it makes you relaxed and sleepy. The customer knows what this thing is going to do for them.”
Finally, while it may not be totally unique, Rair cares about equity. Frakes said he spent years coaching sports and saw so many young peoples’ lives ruined by racial profiling, leading to arrests, jail and lost scholarships. All it took was one joint on the porch, or even residue in the glove box.
Now, the whole team at Rair is hoping to give back however they can.
“We want to be known as somebody that really cares about the quality of our product offerings, and our customer service, and our commitment to the communities where we operate. That’s it.
“We’re going to make sure we’re doing this the right way, and be a positive force in this change going on in Michigan.”
*More stores coming soon.