Kristen Nichols is the editor of Hemp Industry Daily.

(This is an abridged version of a column that appears in the November-December issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)

We cheer when the big guys see the benefits and market opportunities of hemp products.

When a national grocer starts carrying CBD, or a longtime agricultural biotech giant turns its genetic prowess to hemp, it’s a signal that hemp products are more than a fleeting consumer fad.

But there’s a downside, too. As consumers see CBD products sold in more and more mainstream locations, the public has less reason to visit hemp-specific retailers to buy these products.

That’s good news for shoppers who prefer to see and smell CBD products before buying them.

But it’s a challenge for those stores that have popped up seemingly overnight selling CBD tinctures, topicals, vapes and pre-rolls.

I have no doubt that the hemp industry will rise to meet this challenge as it has so many others – and that hemp retailers will provide a distinct shopping experience that an average convenience store can’t match.

But I also think that a lot of mom-and-pop stores with signs in the window screaming “CBD HERE!” will fail. Who cares if a new store sells CBD, when all the old stores do, too?

The big guys aren’t just coming; they’re already here. Hemp-specific retailers see sharks in the water, and they’re feeling attacked.

But as we look deeper at how cannabis companies are partnering with larger mainstream firms, don’t forget that sharks aren’t the only fish in the sea.

For those smaller fish wondering where hemp retail is headed, the time is now to find the waters where you can swim freely and thrive.

(Find this topic interesting? There’s more to read.)

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