Seaside Cannabis To Open As Orleans’ First Pot Shop
ORLEANS – After more than three years, on Nov. 9 the team behind Orleans’ first retail marijuana business got the news it had been waiting for.
The state’s Cannabis Control Commission gave final approval to Seaside Cannabis Co. to operate an adult-use recreational marijuana shop at 14 Lots Hollow Rd., paving the way for it to become the first such licensed business to operate in Orleans.
“It’s a huge thing,” Spencer Knowles, Seaside’s chief operating officer, said of the approval when reached by phone last week. “What really rallies us when the going gets tough, it may sound corny, but we’re doing this for Orleans. Two of us are from Orleans. We’re doing this for this town. It’s the commercial hub of the Outer Cape, and it deserves a first class retail experience.”
Knowles joins partners David Currier, A.J. Luke, Adam Higgins and Tim McNamara in bringing Seaside to Orleans. Efforts to start the dispensary began in October 2020, and Seaside was one of two businesses granted a license by the select board to sell recreational marijuana in June 2021. The business also has host community agreements with the town to sell and manufacture recreational marijuana products.
Since then, it’s been a long process toward setting the business up to open. In September, the business received its Massachusetts retailer’s license and successfully passed a post provisional license inspection. On Nov. 9, Seaside was officially approved for a final license by the Cannabis Control Commission. In a video shared on social media, Currier was filmed watching the commission’s vote in anticipation from the store.
“We just had our AV system put in, so they were watching it and they posted that video, which was great,” Knowles said.
While the news of the final license left some with the impression that a grand opening would be imminent, Knowles said there’s still more to be done before Seaside officially opens to the public in December.
“It’s euphoric,” he said. “It’s exciting, but this is a marathon.”
What Can Customers Expect?
The shop will be outfitted with the Cape's first deli-style "flower market," where customers will be able to learn about various cannabis flower products. Staff will present flower products to them so they can better appreciate the unique attributes of each cannabis strain, Knowles said. Customers will also be able to meet and hear from the cultivators themselves, part of what Knowles called Seaside's "commitment to normalization through education."
Knowles estimated that “five to 10” strains of flower product will be offered to customers to start. Eventually that number could grow to 20 different offerings, he said.
Other features include a beverage station with infused seltzers and other drinks, as well as designated “product walls” showcasing goods for specific uses, such as sleep and pain relief. The product wall anchors the educational aspect of the Seaside shopping experience, Knowles said, offering customers a chance to better familiarize themselves with the shop’s varied inventory of oils, flower, vapes, gummies and other products. There are also plans to hold classes and events.
“We want to be known as the Cape’s destination adult use dispensary,” Knowles said.
Eventually, Seaside plans to manufacture its own infused products onsite in a downstairs craft kitchen. But the focus right now is on getting the business up and running, Knowles said. Seaside won’t seek state approval to manufacture until at least 2025, he added.
“We need to have a really strong first year,” he said. “We need to see what the world looks like, but we are very, very committed to doing this.”
On Nov. 21, Seaside passed its post final license inspection from the state. The process involved bringing in cannabis products to allow inspectors to view the business’ operations without customers.
“Basically the store has to be operationally ready in every way, because the cannabis is now in the building,” Knowles said.
Now the focus is on hiring and training staff. That includes a senior assistant manager, a team leader and four full-time budtenders. Knowles said a “handful” of additional budtenders will also be hired and trained to start.
There’s also one last pending piece of administrative business at the state level. Knowles said Seaside is awaiting an official notice from the state that it can begin operations. The business can open to the public 72 hours after its receipt.
“The last five yards hurt the most,” he said of the countdown to opening.
A New Era For Cannabis
Knowles got involved with the cannabis industry in its infancy, a period he refers to in retrospect as “cannabis 1.0.” He said businesses in those early years were focused primarily on being able to open. Less of a focus was given to creating a consumer-friendly shopping experience, he said.
“People were building whatever they could fit to just move people through the system, because everything was a destination store,” Knowles said. “Fortunately for them, they made money and paved the road. But unfortunately for the consumer, every consumer thought dispensaries were just like banks. You just walked right up to the teller. There wasn’t anything else to look at or do.”
But as the industry continues to normalize as more and more businesses come online, shops such as Seaside have more flexibility to plan their operations and create those unique customer experiences. In the future, he expects marijuana shops to be as fully integrated into the local economy as wine and liquor stores.
“Within the guides and regulations, we’ve pushed the limits from an experience standpoint to say ‘We can do this. Just because people haven’t done this, why can’t we?’”
For more information and updates including an official opening date, visit www.seasidecannabis.com. Find them on Facebook and Instagram at @seasidecannabisco
Email Ryan Bray at email@example.com
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