“IT’S LIKE WE ARE PART OF A CULTURAL REVOLUTION” | Safeport’s success is a family affair – VC Reporter
Pictured: The Jarvis family outside Salzer’s old video building. Photo submitted
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
The Jarvis family has been in the Ventura County cannabis industry for years. Long before most dispensaries operated in the area, Lonnie and Nancy Jarvis (who also operated Channel Islands Boatyard, which was started by Lonnie’s parents) were farming under Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 When Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Law, was passed by the state of California in 2016, it opened the door to Port Hueneme City Ordinance 734, which allowed the operation of medical and non-medical cannabis facilities. It was then that Lonnie and Nancy made the move into retail, opening Safeport safely and legally in 2018. Today, they run their dispensary with children Nicole and Matt, offering one of largest product selections in the county. Marketer Nicole Jarvis spoke to the Ventura County Reporter about her family’s home business.
What prompted you to open Safeport?
Our family has been involved in the cannabis industry for over 15 years. Desperate to help a loved one in need, with his love of cannabis, my father, Lonnie, started working in the cannabis industry in 2007. When Proposition 64 passed in 2016, Lonnie and Nancy patiently waited that a town near their home passes by. a prescription. In 2017, the city of Port Hueneme passed Ordinance 734, licensing recreational cannabis businesses. With an aspiration to provide safe access to cannabis in their hometown, as well as a safe work environment for their family, my parents knew they had to pursue this business venture. In 2018 our family opened Safeport Port Hueneme to the public.
Who were the main people involved then, and who is involved now?
It was a family business from the start! My parents, my brother Matt and I worked together to open Safeport in 2018. To this day it is still family owned and operated. Lonnie and Nancy are the founders, I’m creative director and marketing director, Matt is the product buyer. In 2018, Brad Schouten became our Managing Director and today he is our COO.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when opening Safeport?
We had many challenges opening Safeport, but the biggest was the financial risk. My parents invested every penny they had and invested it in Safeport; they took the equity in our family home to launch Safeport. We are happy to report that the risk paid off!
Navigating a highly regulated industry presented challenges we hadn’t encountered before in more conventional businesses. The learning curve was very steep. Finding locations was initially a challenge as most landlords we spoke to were afraid to let their property be used for the cannabis industry for fear of repercussions from the federal government.
Marketing is crucial to a successful business and with the heavy restrictions on cannabis marketing this has also been a difficult hurdle to overcome.
Cannabis use and its perception have changed dramatically over the past decade. How has your business evolved as a result of this?
Traditionally, the cannabis industry was very male-dominated. Since legalization, Safeport, alongside the rest of the industry, has worked hard to do its part to de-stigmatize the industry. We made sure to make our store a very comfortable space for all genders. We did this with aesthetics, marketing, products and a level of customer service that we instilled in our employees. We focus on educating and spending time with our clients, rather than pushing them out the door as quickly as possible. This created a wider customer base, opening a market for more diverse products. We are proud to say that our current clientele is now almost 50/50 women and men!
What types of products and services does Safeport currently offer?
We are proud to offer the most diverse product selection in Ventura County. We offer everything from prepackaged flowers, joints, cartridges, wax, edibles, tinctures, lotions…the list goes on! We currently offer in-store shopping, delivery, in-store pickup and curbside pickup.
What are your biggest challenges now?
The most challenging aspect of our business is navigating licensing opportunities in cities to grow our business. It is an extremely competitive and expensive process. Another challenge is not being able to take full advantage of the tax code like other businesses, due to federal restrictions.
What do you like about this company?
It’s exciting! We are at the forefront of an emerging industry. There are a ton of opportunities; it feels like part of a cultural revolution. Coming into this business, we could never have imagined how much we would be able to help our local community. As local residents of Ventura, it’s amazing to be able to give back to our community. We have been able to support organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, Caregivers, Oxnard Sleep Out, National MS Society, Ventura Land Trust, VCMilC (Ventura County Military Collaborative), Habitat for Humanity, Santa Clara River Conservancy, Port Hueneme High School, Santa Clara High School and more!
What does a typical day look like for you?
There isn’t really a typical day for each of us, but it’s something we love so much about our job!
Does Safeport have a “typical” customer?
What’s so special about Safeport is that our customer base is so diverse and so loyal! We have clients from all cultures and all ages. We are like grass coffee. Everyone loves Safeport!
Where are your operations currently based?
We currently operate a medical and recreational store in Port Hueneme. We are also currently building a retail store, distribution center and manufacturing center in Oxnard, as well as our head office in Oxnard.
I understand you’re hoping to get a permit to open a dispensary in the city of Ventura.
Yes! We are currently involved in the Ventura licensing process. We await City Manager Alex McIntyre’s final decision; we should hear the final decision in August. We hope to have our location at the Salzer’s Video Building site at 5801 Valentine Road. We’ve partnered with the Salzer family to revitalize this iconic corner, often referred to as the gateway to Ventura!
How was the application process?
So far we have been very impressed with the licensing process at Ventura. The city took its time creating its ordinance, watching other cities to make sure they were doing everything the right way, avoiding the mistakes that other cities made. The city has been very organized and transparent throughout this process. We would be honored to serve our Ventura community. It has always been a dream of ours to operate a dispensary in Ventura. This is our home, and this community means so much to us.
Some important things the city expects of potential permit holders are a strong security presence, neighborhood compatibility, odor control, and minimal negative impact on area youth. These are just a few of the city’s expectations.
What are some of your plans if Safeport receives a license to operate in Ventura?
We are excited about our future location in the Salzer’s Video building. Safeport plans to shed new light on what was once such an iconic corner. We plan to offer an experiential retail environment related to the music industry. At the Ventura site, Safeport will seek to expand our brand into the musical arts. We see tremendous benefit in partnering with the Salzer family to leverage the work they have put into the music industry over the past 50 years.
Where do you see things going with Safeport in the next 3-5 years? And the next decade?
At Safeport, we dream big! Over the next 3-5 years, we plan to open more retail stores, expand our manufacturing and distribution centers, open a grow facility, launch our Safeport cannabis brand and grow in other states. Our goal for the next decade is to be a household name in the cannabis industry.
Anything else you would like our readers to know about Safeport?
With the current expansion, Safeport will be looking to hire! Several positions will open up: budget officers, receptionists, floor managers and assistants, people who have to work in manufacturing and distribution and more. People can apply by sending your resume and cover letter to email@example.com.
Visit us at our Port Hueneme location (we are open seven days a week) or order delivery from the comfort of your home at safeportcannabis.com/order-online. We currently ship to Port Hueneme, Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo and Santa Paula.
Safeport Premium Cannabis Dispensary, 353 W. Channel Islands Blvd., Oxnard, 805-843-3131, safeportcannabis.com, @safeport_. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.