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#Industry Spotlight

New York Cannabis Dispensary Series: Vibing with VERDI Cannabis

By Jordan Isenstadt

Dispensary Name: VERDI Cannabis 

Dispensary Location: 158 West 23rd Street (Between 6th and 7th Avenues), Chelsea, NYC 

Dispensary Owner(s): Father-son duo Mitchell and Ellis Soodak 

Website: https://verdicannabis.com/  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/verdi.ny/  

Path to legal cannabis:

Excerpted from an article in Respect My Region:  

"Not only is VERDI family-owned, it is run by a family that has been in New York City’s regulated retail market and the city for generations. Founder Ellis Soodak practically grew up on the second floor of Union Square Wines, where his father, Mitchell Soodak, has operated for over 50 years, following in his father’s footsteps. 

In 1972, Mitchell was arrested for a non-violent cannabis charge while in college at SUNY Stonybrook. This arrest led to the untimely and unfortunate death of his father, who had a stroke due to the stress of his son’s arrest. 

“They threw a party, and it got out of hand. The police came and arrested everyone and then let everyone go except for my dad and his friends because they were on the lease. They searched the place and found the suitcase [of weed]. So now they’re facing felony charges. One of their dads came and bailed them out. They’re back at the house, and my dad’s high in the kitchen. He overhears his friends say, ‘Well, Mitch’s name is on the suitcase, why don’t we throw him under the bus?’ Ellis shares, touching on the origins of what qualified the Soodak family for a license. 

“He freaked out and called his dad, and his dad went, ‘Mitchy, Mitchy, Mitchy. Don’t worry about it. I’ll handle it in the morning.’ And sure enough, the next morning at 6 am, he gets a call that his dad just had a stroke and he’s dead. The stress over his son’s arrest killed my grandfather. He died at the age of 45. He never wanted my dad to be in college. He was like, ‘What are you doing with this school thing? Come on, drop out. Help me run the liquor store. We’ll do a father-son business.’ And, you know, he never got to do that with his dad.” 

But due to Mitchell’s arrest as well as their active retail presence, the Soodak family qualified for a Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CUARD) license, allowing them to open shop and sell legal weed in New York. Though his father is now on the brink of retirement, he agreed to go in on the dispensary, owning 30%, while Ellis handles the operation and the other 70%. "

The mission of VERDI Cannabis:

Excerpted from StupidDope

"Their mission is clear: VERDI Cannabis aims to be more than just a dispensary; it strives to be a vital community alternative to the illicit cannabis establishments that have saturated the Chelsea area. The VERDI team’s approach is built on knowledge and education, ensuring that budtenders provide tested and regulated cannabis, prioritizing consumer safety. 

Ellis Soodak expressed their vision, saying, 'VERDI represents a new era for cannabis enthusiasts in Chelsea. We’re excited to blend our cultivated approach to customer-focused retail operations with the opportunities presented by the evolving cannabis landscape in New York. Our goal is for VERDI to be a critically important community alternative to the illicit cannabis establishments that have saturated the Chelsea area. Our dispensary will stand out because of our knowledgeable and educated budtenders selling tested and regulated cannabis, as well as providing a safer option for consumers.'"

On product procurement:

Excerpted from Honeysuckle Magazine:  

"As Ellis explains, they not only have a supremely dedicated and attentive staff, but also a rigorous sampling process to determine which products from New York’s varied marketplace make it onto their shelves.  

That, he says, is where VERDI's Cuffing Season Bundle comes in. This unique Valentine’s Day gift collection - exclusively available from the Chelsea retailer - is comprised of “hand-selected products that we know help you get in the mood for the loving season,” Soodak describes. He adds, 'Our goal is to go beyond being just a dispensary; we want to contribute to special moments by providing a range of products that add joy and connection. VERDI is more than a place to purchase cannabis – it's a destination where couples can explore, learn, and create lasting memories together. Each product in the Cuffing Season Bundle was personally tested by VERDI management to ensure they bring the love.'"

What will a customer find when they walk in?

Excerpted from Chelsea Community News

"All you need to walk out of VERDI with product is to be 21 years of age or older and present a valid ID, twice—once before security allows you to enter the premises, and again at the point of purchase (a counter to the left, in back of the long, narrow space). Want to speed up the process or simply immerse yourself in a top-to-bottom tour of the inventory? Kiosks, located on the right about halfway into the space, allow you to initiate a transaction or confirm you’ve arrived to pick up an order. Knowledgeable staff, of which there are many, will help you make sense of the many choices that can be found by utilizing the vertical, touch-sensitive, tablet-like kiosks. And those choices, like the primo stuff, are so high in volume, it might just make your head spin. At VERDI, cannabis comes in the form of flower, pre-rolls, vaporizers, edibles, concentrates, tinctures, and beverages."

What will NY’s cannabis industry look like in five years?

Excerpted from article in NY Cannabis Insider

"I think our legal market is going to bloom into a vibrant ecosystem. I hope that it is full of small businesses, homegrown NY brands, and passionate folks. As long as we have those three things, and some fantastic social equity, then it will be a success in my eyes. I do believe enforcement is coming in a meaningful way. 

Something I really hope to see is more crossover between the cannabis and alcohol markets. Right now, regulations make it difficult to combine the two in a legal way, and I think that is a disservice to consumers. If people want to get crossfaded, we should let them!"

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