I apologize for this taking so long to post, but I wanted to hear from as many people as possible in order to get as many tips as I could. If you have a tip that is not found in this article, PLEASE leave it in the comment section so that others can benefit from your expertise! This is the second part of a three part series that we are doing at TWB. To read the first article, “How to be a Marijuana Dealer — Starting Up,” click this link. This article (the second of a three part series) is about selling marijuana the old fashioned way. If you live in a state that has dispensaries or collectives, then you might not relate to this article anymore, but it is still worth reading to reminisce about the good old days. For the vast majority of Americans, who live in non-medical marijuana dispensary states, buying/selling marijuana on the down low is the only option. I know dozens of active sellers in my part of America, and talk to hundreds of others online, and I have compiled a guide to help others in the industry.
My friends and I have a saying here in Oregon, “getting over the hump in the marijuana game.” This ‘hump’ that we refer to, is the point where a marijuana dealer goes from the point of selling for the purpose of free weed, to the point of actually making real money off of sales. If you are at this point of your career, then you should find the information in this article informative and useful. These tips are not arranged in any particular order, but are a collage of various topics I have discussed with friends in person and online.
One of the top things to keep in mind is customer service. Tokingchills hit it on the head with his comment on the first post in this series, “You may be breaking the law, but you are still providing a service to the community, and you should be punctual and professional in your deals.” Marijuana sales are no different in this respect than any other item that is sold, from Christmas trees to cars. In most parts of the United States, people have multiple options to replenish their stash, and the reason they will want to give you their business is because you are always on point.
Another major factor in growing your business is keeping the supply flowing constantly. I don’t know about the rest of the tokin’ world, but when I was a consumer at the dub and eighth level, I had a long list of guys I could get it from. It was my habit to go through the last guy that hooked me up, unless he was out, at which point I moved on to the next guy. I kept going through him until he was out, etc. If a dealer was never out, then I gave him all my business…unless of course he quit coming correct, but chances are, if a guy ALWAYS has weed, he is usually good about customer service and everything else. Not always, but usually. YOU WANT TO BE THAT TYPE OF DEALER. You never want to tell people they have to wait until you hook up, or that you are going to be dry forever. You want to be able to hook them up every time they need it, in order to grow your reputation.
In order to always be in stock, you obviously have to know where to get marijuana at all times. This of course can be a bit tricky. Your buying strategy is going to be largely determined by the amount you buy. If you are buying half ounces and ounces, you are pretty much stuck with buying in your area. It makes no sense to risk life and limb driving far away to get a deal on such a small amount; it is worth just paying the local tax. However, if you are buying quarter pounds or higher, it is advantageous to find an out of town hook-up. The benefits of this go beyond the obvious price break that comes with getting closer to the source. By having an independent hook-up that no one else in your area knows, you can get buds from ‘out of nowhere’ and reap the benefits.
It is not a secret that Southern Oregon and Northern California have an abundance of marijuana. If you know someone from this area, whether they are from there or spent any amount of time there (possibly while studying at college), chances are they know growers that are looking for people just like you. Just as you want to buy marijuana, they want to sell marijuana. I can assure you from firsthand experience, marijuana flows like water from Grants Pass to Sacramento. Not all growers are created equal, so hold some tryouts, but I can promise if you come from out of town, you won’t be disappointed. Finding growers in your own area is always a good idea, but not always feasible. Plus, most growers away from the West Coast want a ton of cash for their product, even though they are ‘the source.’ I have often heard the phrase, ‘I had plans for this crop bro’ from these types of growers. Come to Southern Oregon/Northern California, especially in October, and you will never hear anything except, ‘so how much did you want bro?’
This leads into the next tip — quality control. It’s not as easy as it seems. I once thought that having simply ‘the best’ was the only thing that I needed to worry about. However, many dealers explained to me that it resulted in a lot of lost sales because not everyone wants ‘the best’ all the time (or ever for that matter). I know a lot of ‘economical stoners’ that would prefer to get a deal on a half ounce of cheap mids, instead of purchasing two eighths of the supers.
Having multiple grades of product is a good idea not only because it fits different consumer demands, but also for strategic purposes. It is inevitable that if a person sells marijuana, they are going to find themselves in a situation where the customer is trying to haggle. The interaction usually goes like this; you show the customer the best product you have and the customer doesn’t want to pay the high price that goes along with a couple bags of the super. If you can tell the customer that you have a lower grade that you can cut a deal on, or that you have the highs if they want to pay extra, then the deal is up to them and there’s no more haggling.
Whether you sell mids, supers, mids and supers, etc, just promise me this. NEVER, EVER SELL THE BAMMER…or whatever you call it in your area. Brick, budget, mex, schwag, brown, or whatever, please do not stoop to this level. If this is what you have to resort to in your area, it is time to pack your things and move out west. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of crap weed on the West Coast too, but I don’t know ANYONE on the West Coast that still smokes it because of the abundance of goodness everywhere.
Knowing the competition is hard to do in a black market industry, but you should do your best. Chances are most of the people you sell to are old classmates, coworkers, and friend of friends. This usually leads to everyone going through the same hook ups because it’s all the same network. Take a look at what people are getting from other hook ups. You never know, it could lead to a better deal for you…
Being prepared for ups and downs is one of the biggest secrets to success in the weed game. I wish I had an ounce for every time I heard a rookie dealer say to me, “There’s an unlimited supply of this stuff. I can get it anytime, forever.” These same people are calling me a month later asking if I know of any good hooks around. The fact of the matter is, rarely can someone ALWAYS have product. I know of a ton of sellers in the Fall months due to the flood from Southern Oregon/Northern Cali, but what about when Christmas time comes? Or Spring Break? Or most importantly, in the middle of the hot summer days of August? Solid nuggets are a dime a dozen during harvest time, but that is quite a different story the rest of the year.
So how does one prepare for such ups and downs? The first bit of advice is diversifying where you get your herb from, and networking during the ‘up’ months so you know where to find pot during the ‘down’ months. I will use Oregon as an example. If you only know one or two hooks, and they are both out at the same time, you are screwed. But if you know one in Portland, Salem, Eugene, and Medford, and even some weird growers off the beaten path, then you are more likely to score when you need to. There has been many times during the summer when my friends in Southern Oregon would call talking about how dry it is down there, and they wish the fall harvest would hurry up. At the same time, I have friends calling me from Eugene to Portland talking about their indoor crops, and do I know anyone that wants some.
Another way to prepare for ups and downs is to hold on to your stack of cash. I have seen so many dealers who were full of promise go down in flames because when the times were good they thought it would never end. These people would spend money like it was going out of style because they ‘had a good week’ and will ‘just make up for it on the next couple of re-ups.’ Then, of course, their hook goes on hiatus for awhile and they have to use their re-up money rent. Had they planned ahead and saved a little during the good times, they would still be hitting the streets.
There is a lot of skill and discipline that goes into money management. I know a lot of dealers who are some of the smartest, most talented people I have ever met when it comes to selling, networking, etc. However, when it comes to managing their personal money and their re-up money, an observer would swear they were total idiots. The marijuana game is comprised of many facets, but probably the most important one is the larger the stack of cash, the cheaper you get the pot. The cheaper you get the pot, the more money you make, and the easier it is to sit on and get rid of. Why people spend their whole bank roll on things and forget the cardinal rule, I will never know…I think that if you are a dealer, the best thing you can do with your money is buy more product. After all, it just makes more money, allowing you to buy more product, etc, so why wouldn’t you???
Knowing who to front to and who not to front to, falls under the category of money management for sure. Obviously, you would never front to someone that you haven’t known for very long. But you should take just as much caution when fronting to people you have known for a very long time too. A lot of people welch on fronts for reasons beyond their control. If they have a large bill coming up such as rent, or a car payment, or whatever, their chances of falling through on a front increase dramatically. If you have any reservation whatsoever about a front, chances are you shouldn’t do it. Yes you might be making an extra five bucks when you wouldn’t have before, but if that customer falls through, you just lost way more money than you planned to make!
On the flip side, knowing when to take a front is very important as well. Your dealer says, “You want some on float, it’s a stellar deal and you can make a lot of money.” Of course you take it, because you know if you sit on it for a week, you will practically have a gold toilet with the money you will make of it. Then the next day your dealer starts busting your balls for the money like it’s their number one goal in life. After a couple days of the harassment, you end up selling the product for less than you intended, just so you can get the dealer off your back and get back to relaxing and toking. If at all possible, never take a float so that way you don’t have to deal with that type of scenario. Also, that way if something horrible happens (jacking or bust), you are only out your money, not your money and your dealer’s as well. I understand that this is not always possible, and I also understand that not all dealers are also harrassers, but you’d be blown away by some of the stuff that I have seen and heard throughout the years.
Where a dealer sells their marijuana is very important. I always grew up being taught that you never do dirt out of your dwelling place. If you sell directly out of where you live, jackers know where to go, the neighbors call the cops and tell them what they are seeing, and who knows what other problems. Maybe people don’t believe in that these days, I don’t know, but that’s how I feel. Many other people that I talked to in person and online said that they would prefer to do it out of their home because it’s easier and they know their neighbors, so they have nothing to worry about. I will leave it up to you to decide.
I have a friend that has been a dealer for a decade and a half, even though he’s still in his 20’s. He is extremely smart, and has credentials beyond most people’s imagination. He always tells me that the secret to his success is that he always does his deals on foot. He ALWAYS wears cargo shorts and a jacket with more pockets then you could ever imagine. Between his ‘computer’ case, his jacket, and his cargo shorts, he can hold about 3 pounds broken up into every increment there is. He walks around all day, and when he gets a call, he gives directions to where he’s at, and pulls the ‘Oh hey, I’m in luck. My buddy just happened to be driving by and can give me a ride to where I’m going.’ They drive a little ways away and he just gets out and keeps on walking. There are various criticisms to this method; such as you can get jacked easier on foot, and walking suck. However, he looks kind of like a hippie bum, so he has never even been approached for a jacking, and the walking keeps him in serious shape.
Wherever you decide to sell, parking lots are a horrible idea. I know it is really fast to just ‘meet in the Wal-Mart parking lot,’ but in the age of surveillance, it is almost a certainty that you will get caught eventually. Just the other day I saw an employee at a local grocery store, with binoculars and a walkie-talkie, saying, ‘Yeah it’s that same car again, same license plate…He just handed it through the window…” Clearly that information is being written down for the sole purpose of being forwarded to law enforcement, which will not only be looking for that car in that lot again, but will also be looking for it around town. Because most cops are total A-holes, they will come up with some super lame excuse to pull you over and try to catch you red handed.
A really clever idea that my dad always did, was to meet people outside of city limits only. This of course requires more driving, and a little hassle, but it is almost full proof. You have to train your customers to meet in a remote place, which takes a couple of times and some solid communication, but once the customer knows where the meeting spot is, you can meet there from then on. Because it’s in a remote location, you are no longer dealing with city police, only county and state. State and county cops usually only go to remote places when called unless it’s really close to an interstate or large highway. If you meet someone in the boonies, and someone happens to see it, and happens to report ‘suspicious activity,’ by the time the cops are even called by dispatch you and your customer will be long gone. Again, it is more time consuming and a hassle, but it is a stellar idea, especially if you are doing low volume/large weight deals.
Marketing is a tricky business when you are selling marijuana. You have to find that right balance between telling as many people know as possible so they will buy from you, while not letting too many people know which could result in getting jacked or pinched. It really just depends on how much balls you have I suppose. I, for one, would never, ever talk about marijuana sells with someone that I didn’t know, or wasn’t accompanied by someone I know. As a consumer, I have met hook ups that were referred to me by a third party, but I always wondered what that hook up was thinking. For all they know I could be a cop, a jacker, or whatever. I’m always happy for the hook, but it always leaves me scratching my head.
I think it’s best to build your reputation the old fashioned way by networking with friends, old classmates, and co-workers past and present. EVERYONE knows someone that consumes marijuana regularly; it’s just a matter of putting the bug in their ear over and over. Eventually you will become known as ‘the weed hookup’ and marketing won’t be as hard. Your reputation will precede you, and the marijuana will just sell itself if you are always on point.
Eventually, if you are successful enough, you will have so many customers that you won’t know how to take care of them all. I have seen this many times before — me and Ninjasmoker call it the ‘blinded by the light’ moment. Your phone is going off every minute of the day, and people are always trying to meet up. There are simply just not enough hours in the day. As a dealer, you will cherish this time as the highlight of your career. However, if you are in the industry for a long, long time, you will start to see a decrease in sales. This is due to many factors; people simply quit smoking for various reasons, or move away, or start growing their own, or who knows what.
The fact of the matter is you will need to do some human resources recruiting in order to fight off extinction at this point. In Oregon, we have a term called ‘the stunner.’ A stunner is a person that gets rid of so much weed, so fast, that their dealer is stunned by the amount of money they are making off of one person. Obviously, as a long time dealer you are going to have to find some stunners from time to time. A dealer usually has a natural progression through the game — they find a hook, use it to their financial benefit, make good money, start wanting to get a better deal, find a new hook up. By the time a dealer is at the end of that cycle, they aren’t really good for anyone but themselves because they are a seasoned veteran and want only the best deals possible. As a dealer, you want to either find or cultivate people like this and ride them for as long as you can when they are in the initial phases. I swear food places are the BEST way to find people like this. What is the first industry most people get a job in — food. What are the best kind of people to sell weed to — rookies. What do people in the food industry love more than air — marijuana. So then, what better place to find stunners??? It’s not exactly rocket science!
When it all comes down to it, growing your business is not a hard thing to do. People love marijuana, and if you have the right kind of marijuana, at the right price, at the right time, it will sell itself. Remember, your reputation is your greatest asset. If you are known as a dealer that is straight up and a good business person, you will be very successful and people will always want to deal with you. There is a famous phrase that I always through around to dealers; “You can sheer a sheep many times, but you can only skin it once.” If you treat people right, and do straight up deals that are good for all parties involved, you will reap the rewards, guaranteed.
Part 2 of a 3 part series. Check out part 1 - How to Be a Marijuana Dealer — Starting Up and part 3 - How To Be A Marijuana Dealer — Becoming A Veteran