Pot business booming in Williamstown, Mass.

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — During its first nine months of business, the first retail pot shop in North County attracted more than 50,000 customers from all walks of life.

"People often ask us what types of people come into our shop and the answer is, everyone," said Brendan McKee, Silver Therapeutics chief financial officer. "Grandparents to college students, all colors, shapes and sizes. Cannabis unifies all."

Silver Therapeutics, which opened in April and remains the only retail pot shop in north of Pittsfield in Berkshire County, released some statistics about its sales this week that offer insight into its customer base. Additionally, the town has released information on the tax revenue the business has generated.

Since Silver Therapeutics opened there have been two other applicants seeking to open retail marijuana shops in Williamstown. One of them, Elev8 Cannabis, could open this year across Main Street from Silver Therapeutics, which is in the Colonial Plaza shopping center. The other would be located just south of the Vermont state line on Simonds Road, but that applicant is very early in the development process and likely won't open for a year or more.

Silver Therapeutics has had customers from 62 different states/provinces in North America. The furthest locales were Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta, according to a statement released by the retailer. It turns out the very first customer to walk through the doors was a 70-year-old woman who bought a cannabis-infused chocolate bar.

Of the first 50,000 customers, close to 20,000 were from Massachusetts, 15,000 from New York, and 10,000 from Vermont. The oldest customer so far was a 95-year-old man from West Palm Beach, Fla. The average customer is around 40.

Silver Therapeutics' figures show the top selling product is flower and pre-rolled joints, which comprise around 65 percent of its sales. The next biggest sellers are edibles and concentrates coming in second at about 12 percent each, depending on the month.

The store is also seeking to open a marijuana establishment and city farm campus at 717-721 American Legion Highway in Roslindale. Silver is set to open a cultivation facility and retail establishment in Orange.

Silver Therapeutics has also provided a tax revenue boost for Williamstown, generating $113,000 in sales taxes through November, according to Jason Hoch, town manager. In addition, it has paid the town $94,000 in additional fee payments laid out in the Host Community Agreement.

"It is a substantial amount," Hoch said.

Drug enforcement activity in town — already a typically very low rate of legal enforcement is needed — decreased slightly after the weed shop opened, according to figures provided by Hoch. But the numbers are very low: seven incidents of narcotics investigation in 2018 and three in 2019. It's unknown whether any of these incidents involved marijuana.

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Overall, Hoch said having Silver Therapeutics in town has been a positive experience.

"They have been really good for us to deal with," he said. "The only contacts I'm having with them now are revenue coming in and occurrences of public praise."

Hoch said that revenue will go into the free cash account for one-time capital expenditures. Going forward, once the town has had a couple of years to get a feel for how much money will be generated annually, the revenue could be budgeted for specific lines of spending.

Meanwhile, last month a special permit for a second retail marijuana store on Main Street was approved unanimously by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The application from Elev8 Cannabis is for the property of the Four Acres restaurant at 217 Main St., which closed after a fire damaged the building more than 10 years ago. It's been vacant ever since.

Elev8 already has two shops, one in Eugene, Ore., and a second in Athol. The new structure would be slightly less than 2,500 square feet with up to five employees. Company officials hope to receive the provisional license from the Cannabis Control Commission in time to start demolition and construction in March, with an opening hoped for this summer.

Then there is a third applicant.

A company named Sparkboro has inquired about opening a pot shop on a parcel that now holds a defunct car repair shop on Simonds Road, just north of the entrance to Steiner Film, Hoch said.

Company representatives have held a community information session, the required first step in seeking a license. They have yet to sign the Host Community Agreement, Hoch said. A spokesman for the company declined to comment on their plans. No possible date of opening has been provided, although the process of applying through the CCC has typically proven to take over a year or more.

Hoch noted that the new retail marijuana marketplace is doing a couple of good things for the town — generating tax revenue and wiping away distressed properties with new investment.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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