Gro Blue Moves to Packard
Dispensaries hurt a grow-your-own store
by Sally Mitani
Gro Blue, the hydroponic gardening store formerly on the fringe of downtown, has moved to the fringe of Ann Arbor, and the ownership has passed from Kriss Pullen-Gideons to her daughter Gigi Bennett.
In February, Bennett, mother of three, was waylaid by a snow day, but Pullen-Gideons explained the move: "We're a destination store, we need to service a larger population." She says the lease on the comfortably ramshackle former house at the corner of First and Liberty doesn't end until next year, but "I couldn't make it work." And she doubts anyone will be able to do much with the property. "It's a white elephant. It's on a floodplain, so it can't be residential. It was a gas station in the Forties and Fifties and probably has underground tanks. The entire second floor isn't handicap accessible." The only use she could see for it is a convenience store: "People who live downtown don't have anyplace to buy the necessities."
Pullen-Gideons, a licensed marijuana caregiver who cared for both of her parents before their deaths, is still active in medical marijuana issues--which also haven't developed in quite the way she had wished. She had hoped that medical marijuana legalization would result in a network of licensed caregivers matched one-to-one with patients, and saw Gro Blue as a central resource for them. Instead, most sales have flown through a one-to-many model of patients procuring marijuana from dispensaries. "Dispensaries are not a bad thing," she says. "A lot of people have chronic ailments, and they don't need a caregiver. But it made that option of not growing your own easier." She says that most of the "compassion clubs" that organized in the late Aughts have shut down.
The new store, near ZZ's Produce, is about the same size as the old, but all on one floor.
Gro Blue, 4072 Packard, 913-2750. Mon-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. gro-blue.com
[Originally published in April, 2013.]