Spark’d Cannabis Opens Pot Shop In South Loop

Spark’d Cannabis Opens Pot Shop In South Loop

The store is the seventh location opened under the brand and the second Spark’d outpost in the city.

The South Loop is getting another cannabis dispensary, this one courtesy of the sisters behind a Wicker Park dispensary that opened last year.

Spark’d opened last week at 2114 S. Wabash Ave., the former home of Tommy’s Gun Garage. It’s the second pot shop to open in the South Loop in six months and the brand’s seventh location in Chicago and suburbs.

Spark’d South Loop has taken nearly two years to become a reality.

Majority owners Loretta and Priscila Foster, part of the slate of Black entrepreneurs to get into the legal cannabis business in recent years, got critical approval to open in the 6,000-square-foot space in March 2022. Loretta Foster was awarded a social equity cannabis dispensary license by the state in 2021 and worked with Chicago-based company Dispensary 33 to open Spark’d.

Like almost 200 other social equity license holders awarded licenses in 2021, the Spark’d opening was delayed by a series of lawsuits challenging Illinois’ cannabis program.

The state finally began awarding conditional licenses in July and August 2022. Spark’d Wicker Park opened in June.

The new store is billed as “a cultural hub and gathering place” where customers can explore the world of cannabis.

Loretta Foster is a Navy veteran and Priscilla Foster is a 30-year social services professional working with unhoused residents and those struggling with addiction. Veterans who shop at Spark’d are eligible to receive 15 percent off their purchase, and people older than 60 receive a 20 percent discount Wednesdays. 

The shop plans to host seminars, workshops and gatherings aimed at exploring the intersection of cannabis and culture, and patrons can look to knowledgable “budtenders” to guide them on their recreational weed journey, according to a spokesperson.

While previous cannabis experience isn’t required, all staff go through training before hitting the sales floor, according to a Spark’d spokesperson.

Spark’d opened in the South Loop this week, making it the second neighborhood cannabis dispensary to open in six months. Credit: Provided.

Miranda Allen and Darshauna Smart, two West Side natives now serving as general managers, said they were able to work their way up the company’s ranks because the owners believed in their abilities. Both have worked for Spark’d for two and half years and credit the company with providing opportunities in an industry that has historically shut out and penalized Black people.

“We prefer to have people that are from a non-cannabis background. The majority of our staff is non-cannabis, but they learn from more experienced employees. We want to give people the opportunity to learn because this industry tends to gatekeep and it can be hard to get in. We try to get people with skills that can translate to the customer retail space,” Allen said.

Smart, who started as a security guard, said she is soaking in this new experience and taking it “day by day.”

“I never even thought that I was going to be looked at as a budtender, but they saw the ambition and heard my goals. It was just like, ‘We would love to have you.’ Like [Miranda] said, everything has been so, so real. It’s the best opportunity,” Smart said.

The diverse staff is a key to the business’s success, both said. Now that they’re in the South Loop, the Spark’d team is in the perfect location to broaden their customer base, as well, Allen said.

“Chinatown is right there, we’ve got Bronzeville over here and then the tip of Downtown. That is a microcosm of what Chicago is,” Allen said. “It’s a great space to be in.”

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Region: Illinois


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