Union Square Travel Agency stands out among the first wave of equity and nonprofit retail licensees in New York. The third Manhattan adult-use cannabis dispensary opened at 62 E. 12 St. in February and now has expanded into larger digs around the corner at 835 Broadway.
A line extended around that corner on Tuesday night drawn by the new location, and a chance to shop and see actress and comedian Amy Sedaris who hung out behind the counter for a lengthy meet and greet.
Attired in a flowery pink and black dress, Sedaris fielded a few questions from CelebStoner and Honeysuckle.
Asked if she still smokes after many years of talking about cannabis, Sedaris replied:
"Once a cannabis smoker... I don't overdo it. I don't sit home and get high by myself. But I enjoy it. I like to use it as a tool, if I have to be creative and come up with something."
How did she get this gig?
"They invited me. I shop here."
Known for her homemade Dusty Food Cupcakes, I asked Sedaris about her favorite munchie:
"Popcorn. I just cook it with olive oil on the stove. I don't put anything on it."
She paused, then said with a giggle:
"Followed by Pepperidge Farm coconut cake."
USTA was almost named Portal, co-founder Arana Hankin-Biggers told us later on the sidewalk. But they decided on Union Square Travel Agency: A Cannabis Store because it was atypical in adult-use retail. The modernist redesign by the architecture firm Leong Leong is long and narrow, like a vessel. Most of the floor space is devoted to the counter and chic display cases featurng high-end edibles and stylish bongs. The Flower Room in the back showcases dried buds in smell containers and a wall of terps that also can be nasally inhaled.
In April, Hankin-Biggers said about business in general:
"We’re doing really well now, not as well as we’d like to, but the numbers keep rising, the revenue. It’s slow and steady."
The biggest issue has been competition from unlicensed stores, estimated at 2,000 in Manhattan alone and more then 8,000 thoughout the City.
USTA has pushed on with an aggressive marketing campaign that has brought their team to such events as the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally, CWCBExpo and On th Revel.
Sedaris noted she lives in the Union Square area. The New York State native has appeared in such movies snd TV shows as Strangers with Candy, Alpha House, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Star vs. the Forcs of Evil. Her brother is author David Sedaris.
FYI: I purchased an eighth of Bruce Banner from Platinum Reserve and a gram of Lemon Mintz hash from Lobo. There are some good deals to be had, especially if you buy smalls.