A cannabis retailer plans to open at 667 Mississippi Street by next spring. Stay Gold is owned by Nguey Lay, Angel Davis, and Mike Hall, all of whom “have deep roots in San Francisco going back generations” according to Lay.
Walton Chang, Lay’s uncle – who for several years provided delivery services to the View – operated a printing plant at the Mississippi location when Lay was a teenager. “For years, Wally encouraged me to save enough money so that I could one day purchase the printing plant. That day finally came.”
Lay, who launched Golden Dragon Manufacturing, a cannabis cultivation company, in 2011, said that opening a dispensary is a “natural progression.”
Stay Gold participates in the San Francisco Office of Cannabis’ Equity Program. “The Equity Program was designed by San Francisco to help people that have been impacted by the war on drugs and now have an opportunity to start a business in a field that up until recently was illegal in the state. It is…very important because it fosters equitable participation in the cannabis industry and gives small local business like ours a chance,” said Lay. “…the Office of Cannabis…gives verified equity applicants a chance to create something special with the support of the City. Our model is based on giving back to the communities we serve and come from, we hope to hire from within the community and give people a chance to learn new skills from this new and exciting industry.”
Stay Gold was eligible for Equity Program participation as a result of Hall meeting three of six criteria: household income below 80 percent of San Francisco’s 2018 average median income; been arrested for or convicted of the sale, possession, use, manufacture, or cultivation of cannabis, including as a juvenile, from 1971 to 2016; lost housing in San Francisco after 1995 through eviction, foreclosure or subsidy cancellation; attended school in the San Francisco Unified School District for five years from 1971 to 2016; or lived in a San Francisco census tract for five years from 1971 to 2016 where at least 17 percent of the households had incomes at or below the federal poverty level.
As an Equity Program participant Stay Gold didn’t have to pay the City’s $5,000 permit application fee. In contrast, Dutchman’s Flat, located on Third Street, paid for its permit through the Department of Public Health.
“I think Dutchman’s Flat has done a great job to help destigmatize cannabis with their presence and great businesses practices in the neighborhood,” said Lay.
Stay Gold plans to promote the medical and recreational benefits of cannabis consumption. The dispensary will highlight small local products as well as its own specialty items. “It is our intention to work with our neighbors and create something that everyone can enjoy, appreciate, and be proud of.” Lay said. Stay Gold will “host wellness workshops in the dispensary that will teach people how to cook with, safely dose, and explore the products in our store.”
Veterans of the food and beverage industry, Davis and Lay own Fig & Thistle, a wine bar, in Hayes Valley. They plan to offer a “diverse array of culinary items infused with cannabis, like honey and oils,” Lay said. “We want to celebrate other small cannabis businesses, products sourced from other equity producers, and other products by featuring them on our shelves. Customers will be able to browse all products freely and ask questions of our knowledgeable staff. Our staff will always be happy to assist anyone that comes in.”
Stay Gold isn’t permitted for on-site consumption of cannabis products; Lay, Davis, and Hall are in the process of securing municipal approval to add an ingestion lounge in the back of the dispensary, which’ll feature “a state of the art ventilation system that constantly pumps fresh air in and filters the air going out, the community will not be negatively impacted by odor,” said Lay. “We want you to walk in and immediately feel relaxed. We are excited for all the new options for cannabis on a health and recreational level and look forward to getting to know everyone in the community and our patrons; we hope to grow together over the years.”