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Take Me To The Candy Shop

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Take Me To The Candy Shop

By James Bridges

“It feels like a dream. It’s honestly something I would have never expected.”

Candy Shop where Sage Wellness currently resides

If you have ever had the opportunity to visit one of my personal favorite shops in town, Sage Wellness in Oklahoma city, then you must have experienced the smile that comes from the one and only Talon Hull. Talon owns and operates Sage Wellness.

I love to visit this place. It’s located in the Western Avenue district of OKC. It’s a great place to grab a bite and then hop on over to the candy shop. That’s right. Sage Wellness is located in what was once a neighborhood candy shop. Very fitting if you ask me.

Talon walked me around the consistently comfortable setting. I love the exposed brick. The urban feel is much more inviting inside of Sage Wellness than one might expect. 

Talon Owner of Sage Wellness
January Cover Artist Summer Rose by James Bridges

“I grew up off of 79th and Western,” Talon spoke about his connection to his community. “I feel like It was fate. I was meeting with my mom and my sister, who is our creative director, and I was, at the time, going to OSU. I was enrolled for about six months or so and I wasn’t really going to class as much. It just wasn’t for me. While we were having lunch my mom was like, ‘You know we’ve got to figure this out.’ We all knew we needed something. I was like, ‘Well, what about a CBD shop?’  So after we had lunch we went over to a local CBD shop just to check it out. It was cool. The shop was put together nicely. The owner was having fun. She seemed to enjoy what she’s doing. She said she loves what she does. She believes in her product.”

Talon said that at that moment he was completely inspired to do something that he felt would help so many people on a lot of different fronts. “I felt like we could do something. We could bring something to the community that hasn’t been seen before.”

At that time Talon and his family knew of a place inside of an old building that would be perfect. It was up for lease. The location was inside of the neighborhood they wanted to impact most. To top it off, it was inside the same building as the Western Avenue staple, VZD’s. 

VZD’s Restaurant & Bar is a locally owned and operated bar located in the heart of the Western Avenue district of Oklahoma City. For three decades, it has been a hub for live music and fountain for beer and fabulous mixed drinks. VZD’s reopened in the fall of 2015 after being remodeled and revamped, but still offers locals all the tradition it has always entailed.

Talon told of how he and his family discovered the location. “It turns out that one of the old candy stores on Western was going out of business after 30 years. I visited the candy store as a child. My dad was a chef at VZD’s Restaurant at one time. My mom even had my baby shower in VZD’s. That’s why I say it was fate.”

Talon brought us back to the “time for action” lunch with the family. “So after lunch we all knew we needed something. We all went our separate ways. I saw the sign in the window. I picked up the phone and I called. At first the realtor was a little bit reluctant. I asked her to please just go check out this CBD shop that we had just experienced. I promised her that I would do my best to have the best experience. Just give me a chance and go. So she arranged a visit. Fast forward… they gave us a chance!”

I could tell Talon was reliving the experience as I watched emotions come over his face. The twists and turns that must have been going through his head at the time… One  could only imagine.  He let me know that he received enormous help from his cousin. “He’s been in business and helped me in the beginning. My mom was still doing dental billing full-time. I came here and started making the best of everything.”

The pivot turned one day for the family and the business. It was a day that everyone will remember in Oklahoma. Well, anyone who gives a damn. I know most of us will.

“I’ll never forget it. June 26th 2018.” Talon was speaking of course about the infamous day that Oklahoma shocked the nation by accepting cannabis as a true medical option for those in need.  “788 passed that day. I have written papers over State question 788 back in high school. There’s even a video of me, to this day, with shaggy hair and my teenage self talking about 788 and it being on the ballot before it was actually even on the ballot. My mom was into cannabis and CBD. I loved that she was into something that I loved and knew. My dad lived in Oregon, so I was able to kind of grow up and see a legal marijuana market. It was simple to me. This is here helping the community and so I got really, really inspired at that point.”

Talon barely took a breath as he spoke. “I was in Colorado picking up our first CBD order. It was exciting as we were ready to get stocked. That’s when I learned that State Question 788 had passed. I knew I had to spend another four hours out there picking up products for the CBD store. I freaked out, you know! It was on the news and I was seeing everything. I wanted to get back to OKC as soon as possible.”

I could sense the excitement and wanted more. Imagine the joy to know that you are fortunate enough to already have the lease. A CBD shop up and going. All of this while knowing that it is all about to change. The perfect timing, location, neighborhood and a purpose to start building up a dispensary. 

“On December 25th of 2018 we were in here putting in all of the last shelving. We were hanging the TVs on the wall, etc… I was so excited to open. We had our product, you know, and so the next day was December 26th— the day after Christmas.  So we decided to open the doors. We probably shouldn’t have opened. But, you know, five days before the end of the year. We end up having to file a tax return for five days of business. It was totally worth it.”

Talon described the time as “a dream come true. I remember being in here with some of my friends and family and just looking at a place I grew up in. This candy store is now an adult candy store as well as a place for the community. In my opinion, Western Avenue is the best area because of the camaraderie. I guess it was really the beginning of the roller coaster.”

The crew kicked off their 2019 with a bang. They cruised into their very first 420 calendar celebration. Talon described it as “such a party here. It was the first 420 since State question 788 had passed. Seeing everybody from all across the state come out in lines was amazing. We crushed our 2019 goals. Towards the end of 2019 we launched a new product. Then 2020 rolls around. We had the pandemic obviously. As a team I’m really proud of the 14 of us. Down to when I started this place. I was 20 years old and I had never been into a dispensary. You have to be 21 to get into a recreational dispensary. My mom came here and helped me get the license. At that point I was like, what we’re going to do is to the best of our ability to make this work. I’m proud of us.”

Sage Wellness crew

Sage celebrated its third year on December 26th of 2021. “It’s so cool,” Talon reflected again, “to be able to see what’s happened over the course of time and then you’re in the pandemic. I think back to when our team came together and you know we put in Social distancing procedures. We had curbside pickup and it was obviously a lot of adjustments for everybody. I hoped and realized that we would push through it all, especially through the storms.”

“I say the floodgates are open now.”

In 2021 there were over 10,000 licenses. More than 8,800 licenses had been issued for growers. Oklahoma had up to 2,200 dispensaries. This is four times the amount of growers than there are dispensaries. Talon acknowledged that a lot comes down to relationships. Without question Talon explained his values, “There are three core values: our experience, our relationships and our community. I really believe it’s like a math equation. You build a relationship that creates this experience. You genuinely support your community… That’s our main focus here every day. We want to create an unforgettable experience.”

In my opinion, there has to be more when it comes to creating an experience that is actually beneficial to the entire process. All of which go hand in hand. There are wonderful businesses in this world that can claim success in measurements, such as productivity. However it’s those special shops where you might find the perfect candy that accepts the fact that a better “quality” experience is a much more lasting and beneficial situation for all.

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