A friend of mine told me Vela is "the Apple store of pot shops," and I didn't believe him, so I went down to First Avenue South myself, and oh my god, he was right: Vela is the Apple store of pot shops. I'd never been inside a pot shop like this. There are windows within the retail space onto an actual grow op. That's right, you can watch weed grow while you're shopping for weed. State law mandates that retailers and growers be separate companies, but there's no law preventing retailers and growers from occupying the same building and installing a window between their operations.
The growers whose plants you can see through the window are called Field Day. When I stopped by the other day, the plants on view were five weeks into their flower stage. I figured the Vela budtender wouldn't know what strain Field Day was growing, but he did: Galactic Jack, a sativa-dominant hybrid that's a cross between Jack Herer and Space Queen. The producer-processor Sun Cliff is also in the building. Wander down the hallway and you can watch men and women in lab coats distilling concentrate and making pre-rolled joints with the assistance of a machine called the Doobatron 3000.
As for the Vela sales floor, the most prominent features are the marble-topped island in the middle of everything ("Isn't that dope?"), and a colored spectrum along one wall. They call this "the Vela spectrum," and the four stages of the spectrum, left to right, are "Hush," "Unwind," "Flourish," and "Ignite." Every product in the store falls somewhere along the spectrum, as indicated by little placards. If you're more of an electronic learner, grab an iPad, tell it where on the spectrum you'd like to be, and it will tell you everything in the store that applies to that state. "Looking at all the product can be kind of overwhelming," budtender Joe Craycraft said as he showed me how to navigate the iPad. "This can simplify things."
Bonus: Jimmy John's is right next door, and next door to that? Krispy Kreme. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
1944 First Ave S,
Hours: Mon–Thu 9:30 am–10 pm, Fri–Sat 9:30 am–11 pm, Sun 10 am–7 pm