Flint, MI—Sozo, a new marijuana facility offering medical and recreational products, will be hosting its grand opening event this Friday, May 13, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We’re excited,” said Kristi Kelly, Sozo’s Chief Strategy Officer, from inside the freshly renovated store. “We’ve been waiting a long time to come to Flint.”

Sozo came under public scrutiny earlier this year when city officials realized the facility was located next to the former Flint Farmers’ Market, which was then being considered for a new home for the Flint Children’s Museum.

Ultimately, Sozo offered to build a privacy fence to visually separate its building from the market, and both Sozo and the Flint Children’s Museum have since received their respective approvals from Flint City Council.

Sozo has three other Michigan locations and another set to open in Saginaw, Mich. next month, but Kelly said she was particularly proud of the design execution for the company’s Flint, Mich. location—a design highlighting the former bank building’s features.

Kristi Kelly, Sozo’s Chief Strategy Officer, opens the front doors at Sozo, a new dispensary, on Robert T. Longway Boulevard in Flint, Mich. on May 12, 2022, the day before the grand opening. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)
Inside Sozo, the new dispensary opening on Robert T. Longway Boulevard in Flint, Mich. on May 12, 2022, the day before its grand opening. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

“We wanted to really honor the footprint of the original building,” she said, noting a glass-walled entry vestibule, polished cement floor still marked by prior guide railings, and the bank’s original chandelier.

“When we first walked into the building this original chandelier … was still intact,” Kelly said, pointing upward at an enormous, multi-pendant light fixture. “And so our thought was if we’re going to get this building let’s try to use this gorgeous feature.”

Kelly had designers configure the store around the light fixture, making its layout “atypical” for a marijuana store but worth it, she said.

Visitors to Sozo Flint will also see other quirks and conveniences in the store, such as a vault door that leads to the facility’s product storage space and an iPad system that allows guests to order while they wait to enter the product floor.

“So if you’re in a hurry and you want to go: we can make that work,” Kelly said. “But if you want to talk a little and you want to spend some time riffing a little bit, then our staff is very capable of participating in that conversation, too.”

Kelly motioned to a display, where product descriptions on small white placards dot tables of marijuana buds in specialized containers.

“This is a cool way to display it,” said store manager Sean Daugherty, who joined the Sozo Flint team with seven years in the marijuana industry. “Kind of old-school deli-style.” 

Sozo’s grand opening event will be held Friday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at its 1101 Robert T Longway Blvd. location. 

Kelly said visitors to the event can expect a host of special promotions, Flint’s own DJ Afrobotk, and a sweepstakes with prizes that include sneakers and staycation packages to music and sports events in Detroit. Food will be available from Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que.

A sales associate organizes a glass display case inside Sozo, the new dispensary opening on Robert T. Longway Boulevard in Flint, Mich. on May 12, 2022, the day before its grand opening. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

Kate Stockrahm

Kate is Flint Beat's business and nonprofit reporter. She joins the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered...

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