- Website: oceangreensseattle.com
Ocean Greens – Seattle, WA
Representing hope—just like Lady Liberty—the Space Needle ferried in a Boeing 747 carrying a newly-immigrated, illiterate Albanian boy. The tallest building he’d ever seen barely exceeded 13 stories; gawking at Columbia Tower’s 76 floors, Ocean Greens thought he’d entered the TV world of The Jetsons. He went from washing dishes to unexpected success after, via a random lottery, being awarded Washington State’s third recreational marijuana retail license in 2014.
Ocean glows as he talks about family. He has three children, and is intensely proud of them: “I’m busy, but their schedule determines mine. I teach them chess, coding, math—and to them I’m ‘daddy.’ They’re everything to me.” His parents have settled comfortably amongst Washington’s quiet suburban evergreens. As a business owner, Ocean’s love for his family drives him through 80-hour work weeks and the occasional all-nighter. Where Ocean is from, he explains, he would create his own childhood toys from trash. Mornings began with a tour through the town square to see who was hanging in the gallows. Neither his parents nor children will ever again experience the struggles of a war-torn country.
Ocean Greens opened the doors to his namesake pot shop in the hallowed halls of a dive bar, which was another dive bar before that. Newspaper clippings and black and white team photos line the walls of the business like an old American diner. Ocean proudly fields a recreational soccer team, Fletch, which raises money for customers and community members dealing with the crippling costs of cancer treatment. “When you run your own small business, one of the great things you do is give back,” he tells me.
Ocean spoke about the American Dream, which he thinks people are too easily distracted from. His own story is proof, he says. When Ocean immigrated, he worked in restaurant kitchens, one of the few places that would hire an unskilled, non-English speaker. He kept his dreams close and stayed consistent. He loves his family, his job and the life that comes with it, but he also looks forward to a certain age when (hopefully) the world is in peace, and he can travel the world to smoke a joint in every city.