Mike Rhode didn’t end up in the cannabis industry by accident.
This time last year, Mike was in the middle of making the biggest change of his life. He dropped everything and hit the road to cross the country and come to Washington state, intent on becoming a part of the booming industry surrounding his favorite plant– cannabis.
It was a risk that Mike would undoubtedly say paid off, but nothing was guaranteed when he arrived to the PNW. “I called up my best friend and said ‘hey, wanna move to a state where weed is legal?’” When Mike got here he ended up working at a local hotel for three months before landing his foot in the door at The Evergreen Market. “I went to The Evergreen Market regularly, naturally it became my first choice to work at. Another employee encouraged me to apply, so I did.”
Just like many modern stoners, Mike’s infatuation with flower was quickly replaced by concentrates. New York Mike is a dabber through and through.
“Oil over flower. I love to dab it, pens are okay, carts are fine– but nothing beats a fat glob on a hot nail straight to the face.”
He credits the convenience and flavor to his preference. “I’m a busy guy.” Mike said referencing the speedy effects that a big dab has versus sitting and burning a bowl or a joint. Specifically terp sauce is where it’s at for him, and coincidentally also a trend we’re seeing industry-wide. The more that terpenes become common knowledge, the more we might see the focus shift off of what is the highest THC percentage to what is really packing those rich essential oils that dictate taste and aroma. It’s those specific characteristics that land Tangie as Mike’s favorite strain. When talking about why Tangie is number one for him, he said, “the mental stimulation and the flower having a specific flavor profile, there’s nothing compared to the taste of real Tangie.”
Mike doesn’t smoke strictly Tangie, of course. He also cites Strawberry Cough as another favorite for a different reason. His favorite strain for a particular outside of work activity. “Strawberry Cough and small shows like the ones in bars. I go to Ballard a lot, Tractor Tavern next to Hattie’s Hat is a great dive.” Mike uses going to shows as a way to get out of the house. Not all stoners just stick to their couch. “Strawberry Cough is that classic sativa buzz I want for being out and awake. The music sets can be kinda long. I’m anxious a lot, but Strawberry Cough makes me very social. I’ll go to concerts by myself to step out of my comfort zone and even if I don’t talk to anyone, it allows me to get out and be social. Anxiety is a really bad friend that tells you a lot of lies and some Strawberry Cough while going to a show really helps me with that.”
New York Mike hasn’t had any trouble fitting in with the Evergreen State, but if you ask him about his favorite munchies you see that you never really leave where you come from behind. “A good slice of pizza. A classic New York slice. Pepperoni, that’s all you need. Foldable. Portable. You can eat it anywhere and get it for $1.80/ slice. And if you’re gonna dip it in anything it’s bleu cheese, not ranch.”
Of course, Mike hopes to see full legalization hit his home state, but dreaming even bigger than that he hopes to specifically see The Evergreen Market come to the East Coast. “I don’t necessarily want to see Evergreen pop up in big cities, but instead in places like where I’m from. My dream for TEM is to break ground in my hometown. I love Washington, I’ve been told I’ve got the PNW vibe, but you never forget where you come from. Maybe my teachers and parents didn’t teach me how to dab, but they really gave me the tools and skills to make this all possible. I want to go back, and give back, and I would really like to do that with Evergreen.”
As a matter of fact, Mike is all about his second home with Evergreen Market. When asked if he has any mentors or role models within i502 he highlighted everybody he shares this company with. “Everyone at The Evergreen Market. Not just at the upper levels either, I don’t know if it’s a secret or anything but the industry turnover rate is pretty high and the people that stick with us are in it for real. Some people think we might lose something by going mainstream, but everyone that’s here is really different and set for normalizing cannabis. The convergence of three great minds creating something like this is amazing.”
“Great minds attract successful, driven people and I like seeing those people create something fruitful.”
A point that came up in a recent educator meeting was just what New York Mike referenced within his answer– the hesitancy of cannabis becoming mainstream. A perspective-checking counterpoint came from Eric Gaston, one of The Evergreen Market founders. Eric made the statement, “If you love cannabis, and see what this plant can do why wouldn’t you want everyone to be smoking? I think the world might be a better place if everyone smoked cannabis.” Mike Rhode lives this sentiment even when he’s not at work. “I’m not a keyboard warrior or anything, but I like to stop the spread of misinformation so I’ll talk about cannabis off the clock. I like talking to people about weed to get them aware and excited, mostly excited. I wear the Evergreen shirts and rep it everywhere, I love it.”
The educator position was a natural fit for Mike who was already championing cannabis before he was even aware of what the educator position entailed. “After talking to Vaughn and Dillon I really got the grasp of what it meant to be an educator. I wanted more responsibility within the industry for myself, but also for the customers. I wanted to be a reassuring voice, not necessarily someone that knows better but can guide and direct and make sure the cannabis experience isn’t scary.”
The passion for the plant coupled with the enthusiasm for people who come into our stores is what makes Mike a natural asset. When asked about what the most eye-opening experience as an educator has been his answer speaks directly to the connection with the customer. “Someone who hasn’t really experienced cannabis before for example, or hasn’t smoked it in a long time, maybe they’re trying it ‘cause it’s legal now. I get excited about people that are excited about cannabis. I will guide them with a smile on my face, not to devalue the people that come in and want their daily $40 sack, but the people that are like ‘wow, cool, amazing. What can you tell me about this?’ The answer is how much time you got? Cause I’ve got all the time in the world.”
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