What’s happening in the former Pinup Girl Boutique at 3606 West Magnolia Blvd? Well, it depends on who you ask. A company called Quanta has moved into the location, after its business license application was approved by the City of Burbank in early summer.
Quanta’s owner Eric Rice
The license is for office space only, but the owner, Eric Rice, has made it clear to a lot of folks his plan is to sell hemp-based products from this prime retail storefront.
In his business license application, Rice, tried to sneak in future retail sales, but city officials nixed it. Yet, Rice has been spreading the word to all who will listen that indeed retail sales is his main objective. Many wonder, including a couple of council members, why city staff did not steer this type of business to an industrial part of town. Why bring this type of drama to Magnolia Park?
Many property owners, who remember the failed Magnolia Park P-Bid not so long ago, will tell you how they were promised upscale restaurants and retail like those in downtown Burbank. Instead, they say, city staff gave a cold shoulder to restaurants, bakeries, and even an art gallery, which were interested in opening up in Magnolia Park. Now, these same property owners are pretty peeved the city staff has approved a business that is way out of character with Magnolia Park.
Two unexpected visitors
Nevertheless, Rice is trying to schmooze the local community. Early last month, on August 9, Rice dropped by my Magnolia Boulevard business. He was not there to ask advice on the style of office equipment he should buy, or what type of sign and decor he should get to spark up his storefront. No, Rice came by to talk-up his hemp-based product called “Quanta muscle rub.”Something I hear he’s doing a lot of in the neighborhood. He gave me a sample.
Also, Rice mentioned he was not pleased with my last post about his business and my description of it as a cannabis company. Hmm, the connection is a scientific fact. More than likely, he’s trying to disassociate his hemp products from its more notorious cousin, marijuana. A Business Insider article describes hemp and pot as being “… varieties of cannabis sativa, one of the three main subtypes of the cannabis plant.” Hemp is supposed to contain very little THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which produces the high in marijuana. Hemp has more of the CBD or cannabidiol, a compound, which some believe has medical benefits. Bottom line, a rose is a rose, cannabis is cannabis.
A short time after Rice left, the broker who leased the Magnolia Blvd storefront to him, appeared in my shop. Marc D. Kaye of Beitler Commercial Realty Services began by talking about our mutual alma mater, Stanford University, but soon got to the real reason for his visit. Kaye raved about the benefits of the Quanta muscle rub. Also, Kaye repeated Rice’s claim an application for retail sale of the hemp-based product from the Magnolia Blvd storefront was in the works. Well, not quite.
City responds to inquiry about Quanta
I contacted city officials for a confirmation on a new retail sales application from Rice and got a surprising response. Associate Planner, Daniel Villa, of Burbank Planning Division, said via email no new application had been received as of August 2018.
Burbank Planning Division
Also, Villa added: “City staff conducted an inspection of the business on August 23, 2018 in order to confirm that the business was operating as the approved office use. The inspection found that the front door of the business on Magnolia is open to the public, however the space was not setup as a retail store. The owner said he is currently supplying the product to physicians, chiropractor, and massage therapists from another facility. He said he currently is not retailing the product from the Magnolia location but is planning to do so in the future. The owner said that he is aware of concerns expressed by members of the community and is available to provide additional information on his business and products if needed. ”
“It’s important to note that under State Law and the BMC hemp based products (industrial hemp) and cannabis products are considered to be different types of products and are regulated differently. While the retail sale of cannabis is prohibited by the BMC, the retail sale of hemp is allowed. Many retailers including Whole Foods and Walmart sell hemp-based products.”
Retailers and consumers
The Whole Foods and Walmart in Burbank are not in a unique residential/retail district like Magnolia Park. Also, Quanta is just a short distance from Roosevelt Elementary School. Since the state’s new pro-marijuana law took effect on January 1, 2018, some stores selling hemp-based products reportedly are preparing to take the next step. Example, Joe Coffee in North Hollywood: “Now that the state has legalized recreational marijuana, (Breanne) Yarbrough and her husband and co-owner (of) Joe plan to apply to sell marijuana and marijuana-products at the shop.” (from August 6, 2018 San Fernando Valley Business Journal) I kind of doubt Whole Foods and Walmart would go that route. However, is this in Rice’s future plans? There’s no way of knowing for sure.
Last July, the California Department of Public Health, issued a ban on hemp/CBD in food products. This has caused even more confusion in the market for hemp/CBD products. There may be further restrictions on hemp in products, so consumers as well as retailers like Whole Foods and Walmart need to stay on the alert.
Meanwhile, some locals feel Rice is, ah, just blowing smoke, by boasting about how he’ll soon be selling his hemp-based products from the Magnolia Park location. I don’t believe that. Rice has made it clear to the city and anyone who will listen his goal always has been retail sales, despite what his initial business application stated.
Burbank licensing and code enforcement
Oh, and if Rice officially makes that move for retail sales, will the community be notified? Chris Thompson, License & Code Manager in the Building and Safety Division, said this in an email: “The city would not notify the residents if an application is submitted by Quanta for retail sales.”
Keep the public informed
Whatever the case has been in the past, the city staff and city council need to alert the neighborhood about any retail sales from Quanta. This is an unusual situation, which could easily set a precedent for future hemp/cannabis sales in Burbank. City officials and city council members should not leave the community in the dark. Keep the public informed.