Meet the Men Behind Velvet—Central Contra Costa’s First Retail Cannabis Dispensary
For Farid Harrison and Matt Morea, so far, 2020 has been filled with highs. Last May in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the East Bay natives quietly opened Velvet Cannabis, central Contra Costa County’s first retail dispensary. For enthusiasts east of the Caldecott Tunnel, it marked a major milestone—easy access to highly curated, well priced CBD and THC products.
Located in Martinez, the clean, contemporary space off Sunrise Drive is a welcome relief for consumers of all ages looking for a consistent, reliable way to purchase flowers, tinctures, balms, and edibles. “We are extremely excited to bring an elevated experience to the East Bay,” says Morea. “This region has been underserved for a long time, forcing people along the 680 Corridor to drive to Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. We’re giving them a comfortable destination in their backyard.”
Born and raised in San Ramon and Walnut Creek, Morea and Harrison were longtime friends when they decided to take the leap into the cannabis business, leaving behind lucrative careers in corporate sales and real estate. Passionate about its benefits—a safe alternative to alcohol, a natural way to relieve chronic pain, and a way to deal with sleep disorders—despite the challenges, the duo took a deep dive into a burgeoning industry.
“In 2015 when we decided to get into the business,” says Morea, “I went to work in sales for a couple of top brands and started to research what it takes to enter the cannabis world. A few years of interactions with some of the best operators laid the foundation for Velvet’s supply chain connections. I’ve traveled all over the West Coast and visited 90% of the dispensaries in California to tailor an environment where we can serve all kinds of individuals.”
Velvet’s recreational and medicinal users will revel in its selection and knowledgeable staff. “It is important for us to offer something for everyone at Velvet - from the longtime enthusiast to those just discovering the products. We're really proud of our staff and their ability to connect with everyone who comes through our door,” says Harrison. “It is also fulfilling to be able to employ a local team. We grew up here, we live here, and this community shaped us. We take great pride in being able to open a business here.”
As for Morea and Harrison, the dynamic duo have big plans.