Uncle Ando’s Wurld of Weed, a marijuana retailer located in Centralia, is set to hold its grand opening at the end of this month.
It will be the company’s second store — its first is located in South Aberdeen.
“We are going to have the growers do kind of a meet and greet,” said Frank Christin, manager for both the Centralia location and the other Uncle Ando’s in Aberdeen. “We will have some type of food truck or something out here, we’ll have music and possibly the ‘Cannabus’ will be on site also, coming from Seattle.”
While the store opened on Sunday, March 17, the big shabang and ribbon cutting will take place at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, March 29.
Business partners Perry Nelson and Matt Martinez own the Centralia Uncle Ando’s Wurld of Weed. Christin is Nelson’s brother in law, and said the two attended school in Centralia for a time. Both now live in Seattle.
When marijuana-related businesses first became legal in Washington, the state received so many applications for business licenses that it held a lottery. Christin said Nelson won that lottery.
“Perry, or my family I guess you can say, picked Centralia because we know Centralia,” Christin said. “It was funny. A lot of people would say, that don’t know (the city), ‘Why would you pick Centralia?’ Because we went to school (here) — we know what they do.”
Martinez is a real estate broker, located in Vancouver, Washington. He said that he is constantly up in the Centralia and Chehalis area because he covers the location for his clients.
Nelson and Martinez began working together about three years ago. Martinez wasn’t sure when he officially became a partner in the project.
“I know Perry and his family looked at other options, but I think I was really one of the only ones who was willing to step in,” Martinez said. “… I do some fee-development work as well as real estate brokerage, so it was kind of a chance meeting through mutual acquaintances. It started as a conversation and free advice.”
In talking with the city of Centralia, Martinez said, he saw the city was looking for someone to take a “big risk in terms of zoning.”
“It really stepped away from traditional retail dynamics,” said Martinez of the city’s requirement that pot retailers be in a heavy industry zone. “Being out there by yourself, it makes people really nervous about spending the kind of money we had to to get a store out there. It was a challenge and I like a challenges.”
The name “Uncle Ando’s Wurld of Weed” — the name for both the Aberdeen location that only Martinez owns and the Centralia location the two own together — came from Martinez’s time in college.
Martinez had a close friend who later died in an accident. This person was the most popular person on campus, Martinez said, and looked like a California surfer kid.
“He was the most accepting soul I have ever met,” Martinez said.
This person went by the name “Uncle Ando” on campus. Martinez asked the family if he could use the name “Uncle Ando” for the Aberdeen store that opened in 2016.
Martinez would not say where he attended college and said it was “somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.”
In his 20s, Martinez said, he had cyclic vomiting syndrome, an illness that creates symptoms that mimic going through chemotherapy for cancer. He began using cannabis to help him get through that illness.
“It did something very positive for me, but you would never think that was positive based on its reputation at the time,” Martinez said.
Martinez said he wanted to “give back, for lack of a better word” to marijuana, so that people understood more about it. When it became legal in Washington, he wanted to join the market.
“I’m just really looking forward to serving the customers in Centralia and providing them with a clean, honest business and hopefully some great customer service,” Martinez said. “(We will) hopefully help people understand a little bit more about marijuana — while still something only adults should be using, is maybe not as bad as portrayed in some of those 50s-era propaganda videos.”