Long before Michigan voters legalized cannabis for adult use in 2018, the B.D.T. smoke shop in Hazel Park was already celebrating cannabis culture. Since 1973, the store has sold items like bongs, pipes, rolling papers, tie-dye T-shirts, and pretty much anything else a stoner could ask for — except weed.
That will soon change. A new dispensary called The Hive is readying to open in the same building as B.D.T.’s long-standing storefront on John R Road.
The venture is led by Dana Elgie, the daughter of B.D.T. owner Curtis Goure, who plans to open its doors to the public with a soft opening on Friday, June 2, followed by a grand opening party later in the year to celebrate its first harvest.
Elgie says the ball got rolling several years ago when she obtained a Class A Marijuana Microbusiness License. The license allows owners to grow and sell their own flower, as well as purchase and sell infused products from licensed processors.
A section of the large building has been converted into a small storefront, while another is being converted into a growing and cultivation facility. Eventually, the store will sell its own flower, but for now it’s starting with what Elgie describes as “boutique” products that consumers won’t find in larger dispensaries.
“We’ll do a lot more smaller batches of strains, where it’s more about quality over quantity,” Elgie says. “It’s going to be the most boutique brand that you can find in this area.”
“We use the analogy of ‘craft cannabis,’ similar to what the micro beer business was when it evolved,” Goure adds. “We’re completely differentiated from the rest of the industry.”
Following in her father’s footsteps, Elgie started her own career in 2009, shortly after Michigan voters approved cannabis for medical use, as a caregiver growing cannabis for patients.
Elgie says that experience gave her an affinity for small growers over the large industrial operations. “I have a good handful or more of caregiver brands that I’m going to bring in, just because I’m a caregiver coming from that market. I just want to support those people,” she says. “All the biggest companies, everybody can get that everywhere. I would love to have those smaller caregiver brands in the store.”
The Hive’s director of operations is Carly Gilewski, who started in the cannabis industry as a budtender at a larger dispensary before moving up to manager, following a career as a hairstylist. She says while working in salons, she learned the value of creating a good rapport with customers so they come back again.
“As a consumer, I go where I’m comfortable,” she says. “The big thing that I can say about what creates loyalty is education, because you’re building trust.”
The B.D.T. expansion also includes a spin-off business called Bumblebee, which buys and sells wholesale materials like dry ice and solvents that are used in the cannabis extraction process, or refining it for use in other products. Elgie says that the dry ice can be used for non-cannabis industries like restaurants and even rat extermination.
It’s been a long, strange trip for B.D.T. It first opened 50 years ago at the old Cambridge Mall at John R and Nine Mile Roads. In 1984, it moved to another location on John R, relocating again following a 2000 fire to its current home, a sprawling building that formerly housed a bar and a church.
“In ’73, there were literally a handful [of head shops] in the entire state,” Goure says. “We all knew each other — the Road Show, the Plum Pit, Dream Factory.” At one point, B.D.T. expanded to six stores, but now just has three, with the other two in Ferndale and Roseville.
Things got tough in the 1980s, Goure says, when the federal government started to crack down on head shops. While living in Grosse Pointe, he says he used to euphemistically refer to himself as a “business consultant” because of the stigma against cannabis. That has changed as cannabis use becomes more mainstream, he says.
Elgie says she also has also noticed a change in attitudes since she started working as a caregiver.
“The older generation didn’t really think that was a real career path,” she says. “But then you get the younger generation thinking that it’s so interesting. And now it’s kind of just part of regular business. So many people are in the cannabis space that it’s not unheard of to hear about it anymore.”
Goure has since moved to Hazel Park, a small town that has seen an influx of development in recent years. He also co-owns the recently opened beach-themed Eastern Palace Club bar down the street, and has also acquired the nearby Salem Market with plans to develop into a cannabis consumption lounge.
“We’re really trying to invest in this South End area and do whatever we can to improve the value of the neighborhood and make it a much more walkable community,” Goure says.
“We want to really bring businesses down here so people can just come and get a sandwich, get a coffee, and shop in the businesses along John R,” Elgie adds.
Elgie says she’s proud to represent the next generation of her father’s legacy.
“It’s been my dad’s family business for the last 50 years,” she says. “It took 50 years to get to the point where we could sell cannabis, and now we’re selling cannabis. Let’s see where we are in another 50 years.”