After more than three years of providing Eureka with organic, carefully curated cannabis products, the Humboldt Patient Resource Center (HPRC) will shutter its downtown location at the end of this month.
Sure, there are nearly two dozen recreational cannabis dispensaries in Humboldt County, several of which are just down the street in Eureka’s Old Town, but HPRC brought something new to the table.
“At the time when we moved in, there were only two dispensaries in Eureka,” Mariellen Jurkovich, the director of HPRC, told the Outpost this week. “We got involved with the City of Eureka because they were looking for something different to offer. Many local dispensaries are pretty much just focused on recreational rather than medical cannabis, which we were doing.”
Along with providing patrons with medical-grade cannabis products, HPRC sought to foster a healthy community through its wellness center, The Connection, which hosted a variety of free classes and events.
“Not everybody can afford to take a yoga class or go to HealthSport, so it was a really great place for people to exercise and maybe take care of some of their anxiety in getting to know new people,” she said. “A lot of people who had recently moved here and older people went [to The Connection]. There was actually a couple that met there and began dating in their late 70s! But when COVID hit, we had to close down. It was a really great thing for us. Not just the fact that we felt it was great for the community, but it was a great way of letting people know where we were and what we were doing.”
HPRC’s fate was sealed by some combination of these events as well as a shift in consumer spending habits. “Especially now with gas being $6 a gallon and the price of food going up, people are wanting to make sure that they get the best deal for what they’re spending their money on,” Jurkovich said. “They want products that are cheaper and have higher THC content. They have different needs than they did before.”
The pandemic didn’t really impact business at HPRC because cannabis dispensaries were considered essential under California’s COVID-19 guidelines. But then several new dispensaries moved into town and, simultaneously, the flooded cannabis market began to crash as the price per pound of wholesale bud fell to $300 per pound.
And, unfortunately, HPRC’s Eureka location has never really turned a profit.
“We were just hoping it would become profitable for us because we love being in Eureka,” she continued. “…I wish it could have continued but it’s not a good business decision to leave it open any longer. I tried. I was going to close it last year, but I thought maybe we could make it work. That maybe isn’t a maybe anymore.”
But it’s not all bad news. While Jurkovich is disappointed about leaving Eureka and having to lay off some of her staff, HPRC still has its location on Sixth Street in Arcata.
“We’ve had to adapt before,” she said. “From being quasi-legal when we started in 1999…then we’ve had to change with [the legalization of] recreational cannabis products. We just have to keep track of our mindset that we produce healthy products and to educate people about our products. Our employees are really into that and our employees know our customers. They know their families, they know how they’re feeling. I’m hoping they’ll stick with us.”