They are not your usual vape customers. They may stride vigorously through your door clad in the latest Prana yoga leggings, or even dirt-clogged cleats. They aren’t here to loll around the shop all afternoon. They’re in a hurry- they have a 2 p.m. appointment at the gym.

These are your athletic customers, from the casual weekend warrior to the resolute athlete with the rock-hard abs. And they’ve come to buy some CBD.

You may not be used to these clients, but you should work on that: The hemp/CBD market in the US could reach $22 billion by 2022, according to industry analyst the Brightfield Group, as reported in Rolling Stone magazine.

By anyone’s measure, $22 billion is a boom. A sonic boom. The other good news is that CBD products are a profitable adjunct to vape stores – a natural fit.

A growing number of sales are to sports fans, who’ve heard from some famous, neon-lit names about the pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory effects of CBD.

From well-known skiers to NFL players and MMA fighters, serious athletes are turning to CBD to avoid the toxic cycle of painkillers and addiction. Even over-the-counter NSAIDS, (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Motrin or Advil) can lead to liver damage and heart and stomach problems, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

“NSAIDs are widely used by athletes…to moderate pain, to improve healing time, and to alleviate pain, swelling, and disability,” according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine. “However, the side effects of these drugs are often underestimated.”

Even worse is the dark entanglement of opioid abuse that has led to high-profile addiction and disability among athletes in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in the past two decades, 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose, many involving an opioid.

It’s no surprise that everyone from cold-brew-swilling millennials to granola Baby Boomers are flocking to all-natural CBD instead. The cannabinoid “offers new hope to many…on the issue of chronic pain management,” according to the National Institutes of Health. “CBD is well tolerated in humans and maintains a good safety profile. Neither abuse nor dependence has been demonstrated. CBD shows potential…(for) inflammation…and chronic pain.”

Pro athletes are now speaking up in the public square about the life-altering boost they’ve received from CBD. Ski guide William Spilo even founded his own company, CBD Luxe.
Spilo is a take-no-prisoners snowboarder and helicopter ski guide. The physical toll of his high-impact sport has left him with a bionic mainframe: a plate and six screws in his neck, surgery on both shoulders and left knee, and plastic implants in his face.

Torn ligaments and dislocated shoulders “bring lots of inflammation. Pharmacology is what most people have resorted to,” he writes on the CBD Luxe website. “The NSAIDs are really hard on the liver and kidneys…I’m shocked at the efficacy of CBD for inflammation and pain. It relieves a lot of my back pain and tension-related issues and it is very relaxing.”

Appealing to the sporting customer requires specialized knowledge of how CBD works in the body and which products are most effective, according to Adam Brewer, owner of CBD Remedies in Lincoln, NE.

Brewer has a storefront and an e-commerce store at cbdremediesus.com. He uses a different strategy for each sales opportunity.

“CBD and athletes go hand-in-hand. CBD is a natural product, that comes from a seed, not a lab. It has a wide range of benefits to support their hard-driving lifestyle,” Brewer said.

Brewer is a man who does his homework. He drives to nearby Colorado to tour the manufacturing plants of the products he sells. He studies the way the CBD is extracted, to squeeze out the most health benefits. He reviews the third-party testing for purity. He goes to the trade shows to find cutting-edge products like CBD inhalers and rosin-based salves.

He and other sellers who take a consultant approach to their customers offer some strategies for selling to athletes:

– Don’t sell out. Brewer rejects free, low-quality CBD products offered by manufacturers who want to promote their brands. “I could make a lot of money doing that, because there’s no cost to me, but I don’t,” he says. “I only carry the very best brands. I emphasize full-spectrum CBD, with the most terpenes and anti-oxidants. I sell gold-standard products like Barlean’s, which require you to fill out a form to be a chosen vendor. Athletes are health-conscious and take care of their bodies. You need to earn their trust.”

– Promote CBD education. A successful e-commerce store will rotate educational blogs frequently, as the science keeps changing. Our understanding of CBD will grow exponentially in the decades to come. Major pharmaceutical companies are entering the field in the next few years and we’ll have a lot more quality, human-based research. Until then, stay on top of the science that’s out there. For instance, athletes might be interested to know that human skin is covered in CB2 receptors tailor-made for CBD creams. That’s why CBD salves are so effective for inflamed joints.

– Understand the science. The power behind CBD is that it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. According to the National Institutes of Health, this system maintains balance in our body and controls many essential functions. It helps the body to “relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect,” the NIH states. This system interacts with pain pathways in the body, including endorphins. Less pain means better sleep, and sleep is very restorative for athletes. CBD is also a healer. It is a more potent antioxidant than vitamins C or E, according to the NIH. It is a proven powerhouse of health.

– Realize that CBD is multi-use. CBD is not just for pain or inflammation. Customers buy it for sore joints, then discover that they sleep well, too. Or, they use it to reduces stress and performance anxiety, which has been documented in scientific studies.

– It’s not just for clued-in millennials or the younger members of Gen X or Gen Z. Although millennials are among the biggest consumers of CBD, it’s also ideal for aging Baby Boomers. According to Adweek, the number of CBD consumers doubled in 2018, with female boomers making up 21 percent of that total. Mood and mental well-being were top reasons for buying it: 61 percent used it for relaxation, 41 percent for anxiety, 41 percent for stress, and 40 percent for pain relief.

– Emphasize that CBD doesn’t get you high and is not addictive. Hemp-derived CBD with less than .03 percent THC helps with pain but won’t get you hooked. An animal study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine reported that CBD “significantly suppressed chronic inflammatory and (nerve) pain” without causing tolerance, which can lead to addiction.

– Don’t forget the fun. CBD Remedies sponsors MMA fighter and CBD user Haris Talundzic because, hey, athletes love other athletes. On their website, they offer tasty recipes and tips for using CBD at parties. CBD is becoming a way of life for many athletes, a part of their “happy place”- without the THC, of course. SVBS

Adam Brewer started Lincoln’s first CBD specialty store. He was inspired by his girlfriend, who suffered two serious car accidents as a child. He started mixing up his own CBD concoctions from raw hemp to help her with pain and healing. Six years later, it morphed into a full CBD storefront and online e-commerce store at cbdremediesus.com. Adam is a pioneer in the industry, developing a one-on-one approach to CBD sales. He works personally with everyone from younger athletes to seniors with arthritis. His store was one of the first to sell a wide range of top-shelf, award-winning brands. He is dedicated to educating the U.S. consumer on CBD, a rapidly-expanding market.