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First black-owned legal adult-use cannabis dispensary opens in Long Island City

Photo courtesy of Trends

Apr. 11, 2024 By Gabriele Holtermann

Trends Dispensary, the first black-owned legal adult-use cannabis dispensary in Long Island City, opened its doors for a soft opening on Apr. 4 at 27-25 44th Dr. The grand opening is planned for later this month.

Founded by brothers Rodney Carter Jr., a fitness expert and co-founder of Harlem-based Hurricane Fitness, and Brandon Carter, a visionary software developer, the dispensary features a large variety of cannabis products, ranging from flowers, edibles, pre-rolls and concentrates to topicals. Trends even carries CBD for dogs and cats from the maker Happy Hounds.

Brandon and Rodney Carter, owners of Trends, the first black-owned legal adult-use cannabis dispensary in Long Island City. Photo courtesy of Brandon Carter

The Queens natives learned about the licensing program in August 2022 and had to overcome a few hurdles in the process. Investors pulled out at the last minute because lawyers in charge of the application process raised their fees from $10,000 to $40,000 before the application deadline.

Undeterred and unafraid of adversity, the brothers came up with the money themselves, completed the application and were approved for the coveted Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License (CAURD) five months later, paving the way from adversity to advocacy.

Interior rendering. Photo courtesy of Trends.

Other challenges were finding a location that complied with the store location requirements and an ethical lender, as well as a lawsuit brought on by service-disabled veterans, challenging the OCM’s cannabis licensing process.

“Everything was on hold due to the injunction. That cleared up in December, and from there, we’ve been off to the races, trying to get the store up and running,” Rodney Carter Jr. explained.

The brothers photographer here with their dad, Rodney. Photo courtesy of Trends

The store is more than just a dispensary; it is a family affair. Alongside their dad, Rodney Carter, they don’t want the store to be a mere retail outlet but a place that creates generational wealth and, most importantly, addresses the health and wellness of its diverse clientele and where everyone feels welcome.

“When we were younger, our father used to let us hustle and go sell things. But as far as a real business, we haven’t done anything all together before this venture,” Brandon Carter, Trends’ chief of operations said.

“The fact that we have the opportunity to do that now to bring the whole family on board is huge because you are doing something with the people you love. It’s going to be legendary.”

“I want to see him win as badly as he wants to see me win,” Rodney Carter Jr. added. “I’ve been running a business for a few years already. For the longest time, I’ve been trying to get our family on the same page where we all run businesses together. I’m a strong believer in “Rising tides lift all Boats.”

The brothers have also partnered with the Housing Works Cannabis Co., New York’s first adult-use cannabis dispensary, which aligns with their commitment to uplifting communities and social responsibility. A portion of Trends’s sales go to initiatives combating homelessness, supporting individuals affected by AIDS, championing the LGBTQ+ community and assisting formerly incarcerated individuals.

Photo courtesy of Trends

However, the Carters are not only focused on the retail aspect of the store, but also envision Trends as a hub for community engagement, education and celebration.

The store’s 6,000 square feet layout features a large event space in the back, which lends itself to hosting a variety of culturally immersive activities like fashion and comedy shows, art exhibits, wellness and fitness classes like elevated Yoga and educational classes about the diverse benefits and applications of the plant.

“We wanted to stand out from the crowd, separate ourselves,” Brandon Carter said. “A lot of people just focus on dispensary only, but we are more of a lifestyle brand. We wanted to have a dispensary as one aspect, but then we wanted to do other things that could tie into that. Have more people come in to even learn about cannabis and the different strands and the different terpenes.”

“We’re a lifestyle brand that offers a lot of different things. We like to say this is not a cannabis dispensary. It’s a cultural hub that offers, you know, immersive interactive experiences,” Rodney Carter said.

The Carter brothers also want to change the misconceptions many people still have about marijuana and educate the public about the plant’s many holistic and medicinal benefits.

Rodney Carter shared that they will host a weekly educational workshop titled “Shattering Stigmas” to educate about the benefits of cannabis.

“But not only the medicinal benefits of [cannabis] but also some of the cultural information [of] different ethnicities [that] used cannabis and how they used it throughout the ages,” Rodney Carter explained.

A podcast called “Trends and Friends” is also in the works, and the first episode is set to air in June, where people can share stories about how cannabis helped them in their healing journey.

“The goal is to bring other people’s stories to life. Trends stands for The Real Experience Needs Different Stories. So we not only share our story; we want you to share your story with everybody,” Rodney Carter Jr. said, and his brother Brandon added, “And how the plant has impacted you and benefited you.”

Trends LIC is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. It also offers delivery services.

A rendering of Trends, the first black-owned legal adult-use cannabis dispensary in Long Island City. Photo courtesy of Brandon Carter

*This story first published in the April issue of BORO Magazine.

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