Bud Junction aims to set itself apart with focus on relationships and education

There may be a green gold rush on, but for one Illinois Valley cannabis store, the business model is more about heart and service.

“Our tag line is ‘Cultivated to Serve,’ ” says Bud Junction co-owner Kriss Williams. “Treating people right — that’s what we want to be best known for.”

Located in Kerby, 27 miles down Highway 199 from Grants Pass, Bud Junction is spacious, modern and well-lit. The store’s staff, or “bud mentors,” often can be found kicking back on cozy couches, chatting with customers, or maybe looking over the latest cannabis industry literature together.

“Some customers know exactly what they want, and we’re happy to serve them,” Williams says. “But if folks are interested in learning more about the products or want to talk about their own cannabis consumption, this is where Bud Junction shines.”

“I’m really happy going in there because they’re so professional,” says Maureen “Mo” Connolly, a retired critical care nurse who uses cannabis to treat her rheumatoid arthritis. “They really listen and they answer questions. They help me make decisions about products that give me the best outcomes. And it’s so nice and comfortable and clean in there. It’s not a hippie shack.”

Connolly, 75, says she once used opioids to cope with pain, but now that she uses a CBD topical product and smokes a little cannabis at night, she’s narcotic-free. “I could go to a doctor tomorrow who’ll give me Vicodin,” she says, “but this is so much better for me.”

Bud Junction does a vigorous business with both medical and recreational users, though store manager Denise Fry notes how “many” recreational users are in fact consuming cannabis products medicinally.

“Medical marijuana cards are expensive, involve multiple appointments, and many people won’t go through all that,” Fry says.

And while readily acknowledging that bud tenders are not medical professionals, she says, “it’s an awesome feeling matching customers’ needs with the right products.”

Williams emphasizes that the premium placed on developing human connections with customers extends to all Bud Junction employees, partners, growers, farmers and distributors. Even with regulators, he says, “it’s always about relationship-building.”

Southwestern Oregon has been a marijuana grower’s stronghold for decades, and Williams seems both savvy and humble about learning from the local professionals. “There’s a lot of knowledge to be found throughout this valley.

“The industry is growing so fast — things are always changing, there’s always new information,” Fry adds. “So if there’s something we don’t understand, or want to better explain to a customer, our bud tenders will look it up, right on the spot. We’re eager and willing to work to keep up with the learning curve.”

Many customers remain “hung up” on THC levels (one of the active ingredients in cannabis that produces the high), but Williams says “terpenes,” another natural ingredient in cannabis, are also key in producing various effects, so the bud tenders are educating about this aspect, as well.

According to Williams, Bud Junction offers 24 top-shelf indoor strains for $11 a gram, while eight outdoor strains from local farms cost $6 per gram. High-quality, light-deprived, greenhouse-grown cannabis is also on tap.

The store also sells a wide range of other popular cannabis products, including shatter, resin, rosin, pre-rolls, a variety of cartridges and several edibles. Bud Junction has partnered with a local glassblower, Sir Pyro, to sell pipes, dab rigs and pendants. Also available is a line of Zabado products and an assortment of bongs and other products — all made in the U.S. There’s also a “hemp closet” with clothing and belts.

Bud Junction is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Learn more at www.budjunction.net.

Reach Illinois Valley freelance writer Annette McGee Rasch at annetterasch@yahoo.com.

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