GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A counter-culture staple is getting a second chance at life.
Purple East served the cannabis community in Grand Rapids for all of their paraphernalia needs for years, selling marijuana accessories long before legalization.
Over the years, it expanded to multiple locations, but they eventually fell on hard times. With the deportation of the original owner, and the economic fallout from COVID, the business was eventually forced to file for bankruptcy.
A one-time employee purchased the rights and is bringing it back. Drew Phillippy joined Purple East in February 2019, taking over the role of general manager later that year. In 2020, with the company's president deported, Phillippy became President, leading Purple East through bankruptcy. When the opportunity to purchase the company came up, Phillippy turned to another store employee who could help with many aspects of the business.
“So we had talked about a sort of a partnership, you know, and we pursued; we proceeded from there,” says CEO Jerrell Smith. “We had talked about, you know, business logistics and that kind of thing, and how it would work out and when we wanted to do, and we find a plan that works for us."
The company reopened as soon as quarantine policies loosened, but a celebration of their new ownership — with musical acts and more — is planned for March 27 at the store on Plainfield.
For more information, you can visit the Purple East Facebook page.