By Heidi Simmons
Everyone likes a makeover show and Palm Springs is no stranger to being in the before and after improvement spotlight. Airing this fall, High Design is Discovery Channel’s new reality makeover show, but instead of midcentury modern homes, it is marijuana dispensaries and lounges that are getting the facelift.
“I got a call and they asked if I would be interested,” said Steven Wijatyk, owner, Reefer Madness Dispensary and Lounge about the new design series. “We had a few Zoom meetings, they came into the store, and I guess they thought we would look good on TV.”
The cable program will feature a weekly makeover of cannabis dispensaries and lounges across the country.
High Design producers asked Wijatyk what he wanted to improve or see redone to his Reefer Madness establishment. He was able to quickly give the designer his wish list: remove the lowered ceiling, fix the florescent lighting in the lounge, do something with the concrete floors, and add more storage for products. Wijatyk opened the 1,800 square foot Palm Springs dispensary and lounge last year, (March 2020) right when California’s Governor Newsom ordered shelter in place orders. Wijatyk remained open as an essential business, reaching new customers by waving signs on busy Ramon Road and provided extended hours.
Today, Reefer Madness is a happening spot. There is a constant flow of customers who represent all demographics. The lounge has tourists enjoying a take-out lunch while sharing a joint, and having “edibles” for desert. The cool, relaxed vibe delivers a sense of fun and colorful escape.
“A lot of the work they did was a surprise,” said Wijatyk. “It is a big improvement over what we had before. They did it in only five days.”
Reefer Madness remained open during the filming and improvement process. Customers who shopped and used the lounge avoided the construction mess and busy designers, finding it all more curious than annoying.
The Reefer Madness logo is a silhouette of a white rabbit with a black spiral emanating from its center, which seems to pull you inside or attempt to mesmerize you.
The High Design team took inspiration from the rabbit to deliver an “Alice in Wonderland” theme.
Upside down teacups and saucers serve as light fixtures. The exposed ceiling with conduit, ducting and vents are painted a bright juvenile green that feels like you have gone down the rabbit hole. There are clusters of rainbow colored Chinese lanterns. A load bearing support is disguised with a myriad of hanging brass chains draped with pocket watches. Underneath the clever chandelier are wraparound lights, which appear to twinkle with lounge-goer’s movement. It is a sculpture that just begs to be fondled.
Part of the makeover deal was that Wijatyk pay for the contractor, yet the contractor worked as instructed by the designer.
Wijatyk’s sister, Amanda Adkins, an art teacher before the pandemic, now Reefer Madness’ Marketing Director, had painted a lengthy mural across the wall of the lounge. Cheerful and imaginative, the beloved mural was accidently painted over in black by the contractor. Wijatyk hopes his sister will do another mural on the long dispensary wall.
Wijatyk moved to Palm Springs from Arizona. He is a young man who looks more corporate than hippie.
In the Grand Canyon State, Wijatyk worked for Intel as a mechanical engineer. He had stomach and sleep issues. An Intel coworker who had been in the cannabis industry, recommended that he try marijuana medicinally. Wijatyk found that the cannabis was amazingly effective so he researched what he considered a miraculous medicine. He also gleaned all he could from his fellow Intel employee about the business of marijuana.
Reefer Madness is now a striped green and yellow building located in what was once a medicinal marijuana licensing building, where in the years past, a medical doctor had to prescribe a “medical use” card, which was required to buy cannabis legally over the counter.
When Wijatyk began the process of opening a cannabis dispensary and lounge, he did a great deal of the work himself — demolition, painting, layout and design. Having professionals come in was welcomed. As he surveys the changes to his business, he is satisfied and happy about what the designer did.
However, he is also busy figuring out how to put all the shelving and display cases back after being removed by the design team.
“I asked for more shelving space to store product and they gave me little display shelves,” said Steven Wijatyk, pointing to the small cube-like boxes on the wall. “It looks really nice for display, but I have to be able to access merchandise quickly for our customers. We don’t want to leave the customer at the counter while we search in the back for something.”
Reefer Madness has 1,600 skews — or products. It has one of the largest cannabis inventories in the Coachella Valley and prides itself on always having favorite products in store. The wide range of merchandise includes major brand names, locally grown and manufactured products, certified organic and popular seasonal favorites. Flower, pre-rolls, cartridges, concentrates, edibles and infused beverages – all are available to take out or use inside the newly redecorated and designed dispensary and lounge. There is an array of medicinal products as well.
“Our customers really love the changes,” said Alyson Knight, Manager, Reefer Madness. “I’ve worked at other dispensaries, but I think this place is the best of them. We have friendly employees, an incredible inventory and — even before the remodel – it was a joy to be here.”
For now, High Design is editing the five days of filming their design work. Wijatyk is not sure what comes next from the design team, but he is considering a grand reopening when the show airs. By then, he also hopes to finish what High Design started. Besides more shelving, Wijatyk plans to further embellish Reefer Madness with the whimsical “Alice in Wonderland” theme keeping what he likes and removing what he does not.
High Design will air this fall, probably in September on the Discovery Channel. Reefer Madness is located at 4693 Ramon Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92264. For more information the website is ReeferMadnessDispensary@gmail.com or call 760 424 8588.