From Disneyland to dispensaries faster than you can say “Magic Mountain”.
Architectural design firm The McBride Company, headquartered in Vermont, has created everything from restaurants to hotels, theaters, casinos and most notably over the last two decades, its been the sole design ambassador for Margaritaville. Now the firm is lending their eye to a whole new world: cannabis retail shops.
An expert at creating imaginative, impressive storylines, Johnnie Rush is the chief business innovation officer for the firm, with an equally impressive resume. He used to work as Vice President of Imagineering for Disney.
Rush has made it his mission to transform the architectural frontier of cannabis dispensaries in the same unique, transporting way. Transporting how exactly, you ask? Imagine pushing a button on a fortune telling Mystic Pineapple which then produces a note telling you which cannabis item you should buy.
The Cannabist: How long have you been with the McBride Company?
Johnnie Rush: You know, it’s almost exactly a year. It’s great and I’ll tell you why: Pat McBride started off as a musician 30 years ago. He had a very illustrious music career. When he started the McBride company, his philosophy has been to not just look at the design industry as a design business, but he looks at it as we all do, through the business perspective.
McBride is actually the co-owner of a lot of the concepts he’s started. For the past 20 years, we have been the design ambassadors for Margaritaville. Starting with the first location, it was kind of an attempt to take a drinking song and turn it into a place. It’s grown to just this gigantic empire, burst out of this conversion.
You worked as Vice president of Imagineering for Disney. What are the elements you brought from your work in that sort of experiential-meets-architectural industry, to the cannabis space?
Rush: Well you know, it’s interesting because in Imagineering, we create the suspension of disbelief. It’s in essence the same thing; telling a story that creates an emotional connection.
When you establish an emotional connection with the consumer, you create a relationship. We’re applying the same line of thinking to the cannabis industry — here’s a real new industry that’s always kind of operated in the shade, not quite legal, sketchy, even when dispensaries were legalized.
Published: April 24, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News