CHAMPAIGN — Marijuana sales have been so popular at the Sunnyside dispensary on South Neil Street in Champaign that parking has been an issue. Customers have been using lots across the street, but even that wasn’t enough, spokesman Jason Erkes said.
“Our Champaign dispensary saw huge crowds and uncustomary parking needs for the initial launch week of recreational cannabis sales in Illinois,” he said. “We had arranged offsite parking, but even that didn’t satisfy the needs of our customers.”
Going forward, he said: “We are evaluating several options for future parking needs, including a pedestrian crosswalk across (U.S.) 45, offsite parking with a shuttle service to our dispensary, as well as encouraging customers to use a ride-share service to minimize our parking needs.”
A crosswalk at St. Mary’s Road is in the works, but not until 2021 or 2022, the Champaign Public Works department said in October.
Sunnyside, which was closed Monday to give its workers rest, might also “want to evaluate the opportunity to relocate with more parking, pending state approvals to move a dual dispensary license,” Erkes said.
Since sales launched Jan. 1, there have been signs cautioning drivers about increased pedestrians in the area.
Those appear to have been effective, as there haven’t been any accidents there, Champaign police spokesman Tom Yelich said.
“Thankfully, this hasn’t been an issue for us,” he said. “Obviously we’re aware of the heavy traffic and foot traffic around Sunnyside and have been in communication with them, but to date there have not been any significant issues.”
Parking hasn’t been an issue at NuMed in Urbana, which has a larger lot, said Principal Officer Keith McGinnis.
But, he said, “I’m in the same position. We have a smaller store in Chicago.”
In Urbana, he said the store is receiving weekly shipments and trying to maintain supply for recreational customers, but as of Wednesday morning, was sold out.
But, “If it’s on the shelf, it’s going to sell,” McGinnis said.
Through the first five days of marijuana sales, the state said there had been more than $10.8 million in sales from more than 270,000 transactions, with sales decreasing each day.