Destination Dispensary celebrates cannabis retail’s highest design concepts across North America. Each aesthetically elevated store featured has redefined and set a new standard for the cannabis shopping experience in the post-legalization era.
For one of the most legendary legacy growers in California, Brett Feldman is surprisingly humble — a welcome and inspiring sentiment amid the ongoing corporatization of the cannabis industry.
During a recent phone interview, he had one adamant request for this feature:
“I just want to say thank you and give a special shout out to everybody on team Wonderbrett. I get a lot of credit and I’m the one out here talking about what I started. I put my name on it and I’m leading it, but I cannot do this by myself. I didn’t get here by myself either, and I couldn’t have done it without my team. I want them to feel an immense amount of gratitude and support.”
Feldman’s namesake cannabis brand Wonderbrett is a favorite flower among connoisseur circles and known for rare genetics, exotic terpene profiles and meticulous cultivation techniques. The company has transcended selling Wonderbrett cannabis to stores across California since 2012 with the opening of its first-ever storefront in Hollywood, which celebrated a star-studded grand opening in July.
In 2019, Wonderbrett was among the thousands of businesses to apply for a coveted social equity retail license from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation and was ultimately selected in 2020. Today, Wonderbrett is among the 19 special recipients to officially open the doors for inclusive cannabis retail in Los Angeles.
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But Feldman’s foray into cannabis began long before legalization was even something to consider. He started growing in 1998 in the San Fernando Valley where he grew up and a few years later, visited a medical Dispensary in San Francisco, where he got a glimpse in the earliest aughts of his destiny.
“Man, it’s such a confusing thing honestly, because your mind is so programmed in one way for so many years — my mind is still programmed to keep [cannabis] out of sight. Even today with the brand and store, there’s a split personality within me that’s highly paranoid about growing and selling cannabis,” Feldman reflected. “I have to remind myself all the time that I have a license to do this.”
The reason for having that license? An arrest for cannabis possession with the intent to distribute in the early 2000s — a permanent mark on his record that would ultimately qualify Feldman for to apply to the Social Equity Program, whose mission is “to promote equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry in order to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities, and to address the disproportionate impacts of the War on Drugs in those communities.”
After official acceptance, Feldman, with his childhood friend and Wonderbrett co-founder Cameron Damwijk, readied for retail and partnered with Los Angeles restaurant and nightlife impresarios David Judaken and Mark Tung. In 2017, Judaken and Tung formed Walnut LLC, a large-scale cultivation company in Long Beach and when Feldman and Damwijk were seeking out a cultivation partner, they officially joined forces as collective co-owners.
“They wanted something local. We had a meeting of the minds and we vibed off of each other. I found Brett and Cameron uniquely different than many other cultivators,” shared Judaken. “The industry recognized [Wonderbrett] as what was the first flower ‘brand’ — certainly in California — to put themselves in a branded box that was out in the market prior to legalization. Brett was the go-to guy for many recording artists and became a superhero in those circles, which is how the brand name was originally conceived.”
With the flagship already exceeding expectations — according to Judaken, they’re “seeing sales numbers that other stores take a year to two years to develop” — take a tour through the wonderful world of weed that is Wonderbrett.
Wonderbrett, 314 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, California, wonderbrettstore.com
“Three skylights are part of the old history of this building. We refined them during the build-out and they work amazingly well to saturate the floor with natural light. We essentially don’t even need to turn the [regular] lights on until the early evening, which is pretty incredible. Our offices are also upstairs in an 800-square-foot mezzanine that overlooks the whole store — we’re literally able to look out onto the sales floor and see how our staff is performing and customers are interacting with products versus reviewing video surveillance.” —David Judaken, co-owner, Wonderbrett
“Our vision [for the store] was clean and classy to match the brand. We wanted a comforting aesthetic, which I believe David did an amazing job [Judaken took the lead on the design project] with all of the woods and the natural light. It’s a place where you don’t feel like you’re in a rush to get in and out, and that’s what we wanted. I know, that’s contrary to all business strategy — other people are like, ‘How do we get 1,000 people a day into the store?’ — but, I’d rather have 400 people have a great experience and have that spread by word of mouth. That’s where our strength has always been. I never want someone to walk into that store and say, ‘Man, I had to wait 20 minutes and [the staff] didn’t know what they were talking about.’ It’s just embarrassing if I hear something like that. I take it all so personally, I read every single comment … I know I shouldn’t … seeing what the haters say is not healthy.” —Brett Feldman, co-owner, Wonderbrett
“I’ve spent more than half of my life collecting genetics to share with the world and build a team of people to create Wonderbrett. We’re trying to show the masses what good cannabis looks like and not just pumping it out into brick weed and putting a brand on it. We’ve been so immersed in this culture for so many years, that we know what we’re supposed to be doing and have since day one. What worked then still works now. It’s funny because the bigger we get, there are people who are just catching on to us and are like, ‘Oh, I just heard about [Wonderbrett] last month.’ And they think because we’re successful [according to Headset, Wonderbrett has generated more than $37 million in sales since adult-use cannabis was legalized in California in 2017] and we have nice packaging that we are these corporate guys. No. We’ve all survived the ups and downs for two decades and that’s how we got here. Our cannabis speaks for itself.” —Brett Feldman, co-owner, Wonderbrett
“We obviously are focused on our own brand, but we need other brands to be successful. We have an extremely curated selection that fits into our store — we can’t have it be all Wonderbrett products. It’s not a smart model to say, oh, this is the Louis Vuitton store and all we sell is Louis Vuitton. I really don’t think the cannabis market has matured to that level yet — I think that’s still five or even 10 years to get to that place.” —Brett Feldman, co-owner, Wonderbrett
“Everything is built from natural materials because I think that communicates the nature of the plant and most importantly, it creates comfort for our customer. I also like the juxtaposition of old and new. The whole store has contemporary detailing, but that is measured against these old hand-hewn, massive beams and hand-pounded Indian metal light fixtures with Edison bulbs. We planned our oak floors to feel historic — we were not looking to create a pristine environment. And our antique Persian rug gives [the space] a sense of permanence — that it’s always been there.” —David Judaken, co-owner, Wonderbrett
“When it comes to the flower, we just love breeding new genetics, finding new genetics and bringing them to the marketplace. So, we’ve built out a big stable of genetics with all of these unique fruit- and gas-based terpenes, and ones that are hybrid with more complex terpenes — all based in flavor. Everything we go for, starts with flavor and smokability, then we try to get the THC numbers up as high as we can, which is a big thing right now. All of our new flavors like Strawberry Bliss, Pineapple OG and Beyond Blueberry, we dropped in small batches and are very unique and recognizable when you smoke them.” —Brett Feldman, co-owner, Wonderbrett
“We wanted to include into the opposite of the things that I’ve personally found an eyesore at other dispensaries as part of the design. Typically, marketing of [outside] brands is a ‘PAD’ area (patient appreciation day). Too often, you see a brand just [go into a cannabis retailer] with a table and a tablecloth — and they do some kind of poster on a stand to promote their products. So we deliberately built stations, or I call them ‘shops in shops’ that are a permanent part of our store. Each space has customizable LED screens behind them, so we can easily rotate the brands we are working with while providing a showcase for their products. This is just one element in our goal of creating a very bright and approachable space with a great energy overall.” —David Judaken, co-owner, Wonderbrett