Contrary to what one might initially think, the owners of Higher by Bad Gramm3r, a shop with outlets in Palmer and Wasilla, aren’t worried about anyone’s proper or improper use of English. The name, said co-owner Teri Zell, “just came together.”

It began with the word “bad,” which, in certain circumstances, especially when used as a slang term, denotes “good.” Think of Sammy Hagar advising listeners to “get on your bad motor scooter and ride.” Would "good motor scooter” sound as inviting?

“Grammar” was used because “we sell stuff by the gram,” Zell continued. And as for the number that replaces the second “a” in grammar, “The 3 is for my husband, myself, and our son.”

“It really stands out,” Zell said of the name, “because everybody else is green this, green that, weed this, weed that, Alaska this ... ” Amidst some similarly titled businesses, she said, their name “sets us apart.”

Zell’s husband and business partner, Peter Zell, added that, “I know the insurance people really liked it.” He said they found the name intriguing and original.

Zell and her husband own the business, while their son Peter is the general manager. It’s a family operation, albeit one that puts customers first, so much so that the Zells asked those customers to make one of the company’s most crucial decisions: choosing the graphics.

Their initial logo, which they still use as part of their branding, was designed by the Zells. “It’s just the THC structure” above the shop name, Teri Zell said. “It’s very simple.”

They wanted something more, though. So Zell went online and found “a company in Australia that had a bunch of artists that do logos.” She told the people operating the company, “these are the elements that I would like,” and asked for “about seventy-five different logos” to choose from.

Zell picked out approximately twelve of her favorites from the wide array that the company provided, then consulted with the people she hoped her logo would attract.

“I put them on the counter at Bad Gramm3r and I had our customers vote on which ones they liked,” she recalled.

Once the selections were narrowed down the three most popular, “I did that again,” Zell said. She placed all three out where they could be easily seen by people walking through the door, and “We picked the one that the customers liked.”

The winning logo shows an eagle in flight, with its wings upturned and its tail, crafted in the shape of a marijuana leaf, turned downward. More cannabis leaves hover in the air behind the eagle, like birds following, while a mountain provides the backdrop, evoking the Talkeetna and Chugach mountains that encircle the Matanuska Valley.

“It gave them a buy-in,” Zell said of the customers who helped choose the final image. It connected them with their local cannabis retail shop in a way that simply buying product couldn’t match.

“They really enjoyed doing that,” Zell said.

For Zell, her husband, and her son, taking this approach to such an important business decision was in keeping with how they operate their stores. “It’s all about the customers,” she said.

David James is a freelance writer in Fairbanks. Comments about this story? Contact Alaska Cannabist editor Dorothy Resch Chomicz at

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