Berner and CookiesSF representatives opened their latest store, this one in the heart of Manhattan's Herald Square shopping district, on October 30.
A line wrapped around the block, awaiting the blue-ribbon cutting at high noon. The store at 958 6th Ave. stocks clothing and CBD/hemp products, but none with THC. "This will NOT be a dispensary selling any THC products until we legally can," the company notes.
“This is a huge move for Cookies SF and solidifies us as one of the most recognized streetwear brands in the world," Cookies co-founder Berner said in a press release. "This location is iconic for so many reasons. We plan on doing some incredible things. We’ve hired some really cool employees and plan on bringing big vibes to the Big Apple."
CookiesSF started as a single shop in San Francisco in 2011, five years before cannabis was legalized in California, where Berner (nee Gilbert Milam Jr.) is from. He worked as budtender before launching Cookies and also has a side career as a rapper.
In a recent cover story in Forbes, Berner commented: "Legalization is just getting started... It's going to play out like alcohol played out. There's only going to be a few players... This is survival of the fittest."
Cookies is one of the fastest growing multi-state operators in cannabis with more than 50 stores in 10 legal states. However, it is not yet publicly traded.
Berner: "There's only going to be a few players. This is survival of the fittest."
Berner is the fourth wealthiest hip-hop performer, according to Zack O'Malley Greenburg at Substack. Greenburg worked at Forbes and has long tallied wealth in hip-hop. Berner follows Jay-Z ($1.5 billion), Sean Diddy ($1 billion) and Ye ($500 milliom) with $410 million.
Greenburg summarizes: "The Bay Area rapper’s Cookies cannabis empire sells 70 strains of weed and 2,000 different marijuana-related products across its 48 stores in seven countries and 20 U.S. states. It’s also the foundation of Berner’s fortune, thanks to an unusual business structure that could one day allow him to buy out local partners and create a unified multibillion-dollar cannabis conglomerate. He’s managed to retain an estimated 30% stake in the company. With legalization coming to more and more states - and perhaps the entire U.S. eventually - he’s uniquely positioned."
“If it goes federal, and the market wants to see us with all these stores and production, then we’ll roll ‘em all up,” Greenburg says Berner told him earlier this year. “So we’re achieving what these other companies are doing without having to put up our own capital.”
Cookies was listed by AdAge as one of America's Hottest Brands of 2021, a first for a cannabis brand. Berner also received an honorary award at the recent Clio Cannabis in Las Vegas.
CelebStoner called Cookies and Houseplant the top two celebrity cannabis brands of 2021.