Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away
If you can use some exotic weed
There’s a new dispensary on Broadway
Come on, fly with me, we’ll float down in the blue…
– Frank Sinatra
Union Square Travel Agency: A Cannabis Store (USQTA) is poised to revolutionize the cannabis dispensary experience in New York City with its expansion to a new 2800-square-foot permanent space located at 835 Broadway at 13th St., one block south of Union Square.
Following a successful pop-up stint around the corner at 62 East 13 St, this unique and modern dispensary, operating since February, has served more customers than any of New York City’s nine licensed dispensaries.
In partnership with the award-winning architecture firm Leong Leong, USQTA is on a mission to redefine what a dispensary can and should be, blending elements of education, design, and social impact into a single immersive experience.
A Destination for Discovery and Education
As soon as you walk into the dispensary it becomes immediately apparent that USQTA’s new flagship store draws inspiration from iconic 20th-century travel architecture, notably Saarinen’s iconic landmark – the TWA Flight Center – creating a space that transcends the traditional dispensary concept to appeal to customers of all backgrounds and class by creating a dialogue between the past, present, and future.
The TWA Flight Center, a masterpiece by renowned architect Eero Saarinen and Associates, serves as a prominent muse throughout. Originally built in 1959 and recognized as a New York City and National Landmark, this iconic terminal and hotel complex at JFK airport features a distinctive wing-shaped roof, tall windows, and tube-shaped departure-arrival corridors.
USQTA’s design pays homage to this timeless masterpiece, creating a dispensary experience that transcends the ordinary. This visionary design schematic transforms the USQTA store into a living portal for discovery, exploration, and education—a fusion of exhibition, laboratory, and refuge.
One of the most innovative features of the new space is the “Flower Lounge,” a 150-square-foot room dedicated to education through immersive cannabis experiences. Here, both seasoned enthusiasts and novices can delve into the science and biology of the cannabis flower.
The Flower Lounge introduces customers to the seven most common terpenes found in cannabis, emphasizing their distinct scent and flavor profiles, effects on the endocannabinoid system, and their potential to impact the overall cannabis experience more than THC percentage alone.
Interactive glass vitrines featuring cannabis terpenes allow customers to explore scent profiles and match them with New York State-grown cannabis flower available for purchase.
Knowledgeable Budtenders and Custom-Designed Product Displays
At the heart of the USQTA experience are the custom product displays that invite customers to immerse themselves in a world of cannabis products. Customers can explore these products individually or with the guidance of knowledgeable budtenders.
Boasting the largest selection of products among licensed stores in New York City, “USQTA ensures its budtenders undergo rigorous training and education to help customers maximize their cannabis experience,” according to Mike Conway, USQTA’s VP of Retail Operations.
Digital kiosks, designed to evoke a sense of discovery and wonder, encourage visitors to engage with and learn more about the products on display. These interactive stations serve as portals to a wide array of sensations, experiences and possibilities, allowing guests to embark on personal journeys of taste, aroma, and effect.
USQTA’s commitment to cannabis education and creating a unique atmosphere is evident in every aspect of the dispensary’s design.
Aesthetic Excellence and Ethereal Ambiance
The monochromatic dispensary design takes inspiration from retro-futurism and modernist travel architecture, creating a surreal sanctuary that transcends the ordinary.
A luminous “cove” along both sides of the retail floor bathes the space in a soft wash of light, giving it an abstracted character and a soothing, ambient glow. Embedded in the wall behind the registers is a 12-foot-long custom light element that changes color slowly over time, casting an ethereal spell on the space, best experienced after sunset.
Illuminated display niches become focal points, showcasing an array of carefully curated cannabis products, all sourced from New York State’s top cultivators, processors and brands.
Arana Hankin-Biggers, President of USQTA, describes the design as “tranquil, cheeky, unexpected, and approachable.” And, we’d agree.
Social Impact and Philanthropy
USQTA is not only dedicated to creating an exceptional cannabis retail experience and educating consumers but also to making a positive impact on the community.
The dispensary has partnered with The Doe Fund, a nonprofit organization that has helped transition formerly incarcerated and homeless individuals into valuable community members for the past 30 years. Impressively, 51% of all USQTA’s proceeds go to The Doe Fund, supporting its mission to lift people out of poverty and homelessness and provide hope and prosperity.
As Arana Hankin-Biggers emphasizes, “The structure of the legal adult-use cannabis market in New York has a real opportunity for significant social impact and begins to provide support to repair the damage done by the failed war on drugs.”
Unfortunately in stark contrast to USQTA, many “Multi-State Operators (MSO’s) aren’t doing enough for the communities they serve,” according to Conway, who has had stints at Curaleaf and Ascend Wellness prior to joining Union Square Travel Agency.
One need not look any further than the four MSO’s (Curaleaf, PharmaCann, GTI and Acreage) that recently sent a letter to NY Governor Hochul “claiming” that allowing them access to the market would bring several benefits, both for consumers and the state. These include increased access to the larger adult-use cannabis market with more consumer choice and competitive pricing. Additionally, they claim it could generate more tax revenue for New York and create jobs.
However, it seems like their true intentions in requesting immediate access to the market may not be totally altruistic. By circumventing the planned state-mandated rollout, they are essentially skipping over those who have been affected most by the drug war and veterans – potentially depriving them from accessing this lucrative industry.
Documents obtained by the New York Post show just how confident these MSOs are. “For years, New Yorkers have trusted us to build and grow the Empire State’s medical cannabis program,” they wrote. “Now, a decade later, our plea is simple: Direct OCM to authorize registered organizations to begin adult-use cultivation and dispensary operations without delay so the State’s legal cannabis market can thrive for all participants, creating a reliable revenue and job-generating industry for decades to come.”
These MSOs’ request to Governor Hochul for immediate access to the New York adult-use cannabis market raises eyebrows and ruffles a lot of feathers. It seems that their intentions may not be completely altruistic, seeking to bypass the state-mandated rollout in order to get ahead of everyone else, including veterans and those affected by the drug war.
All of which only serves to underscore USQTA’s commitment to the New York cannabis community and social responsibility, which sets a commendable example in the cannabis industry in New York and beyond.
Union Square Travel Agency Hours and Delivery
USQTA is open seven days a week, offering extended hours from 9 am to 11 pm on Sundays through Thursdays and from 9 am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Additionally, Union Square Travel Agency: A Cannabis Store (USQTA) has joined forces with Doobie, a national cannabis delivery service to launch an expansive cannabis delivery service across New York City, including Manhattan and Brooklyn’s DUMBO and Williamsburg, with plans to expand to the Hamptons throughout the summer and at select events and venues in New York.
In summary, Union Square Travel Agency: A Cannabis Store’s expansion to its new flagship location at 835 Broadway marks a significant milestone in the evolution of cannabis dispensaries. With its focus on education, design, and social impact, USQTA is redefining the cannabis retail experience. Whether customers are seeking a deeper understanding of cannabis, a curated selection of products, or a unique ambiance, USQTA offers it all.
As the cannabis industry continues to grow and evolve here in New York, USQTA stands as a shining example of what’s possible when a dispensary prioritizes education, innovation, and community support.
Whether you’re a seasoned cannabis enthusiast or a curious newcomer, USQTA invites you to transcend the ordinary and embrace the extraordinary in the world of cannabis.
Now, who’s ready to come fly with me?