CHESTER, Vt. – On Thursday night, Aug. 31, new business partners Andi Goldman, Meredith Milliken, and Scott Blair welcomed a large, R.S.V.P.-only crowd to celebrate the licensing of their new cannabis retail store, Down to the Roots, in Chester. Guests included several of Down to the Roots’ staff of budtenders, some area farmers who will supply the product, other local business proprietors, and the property owner, Mark Williams.
The team is nearly finished with renovations to the building that once was home to the 103 Artisans Marketplace art gallery, and the attention to design and detail is noteworthy. With vaulted ceilings, corrugated steel walls combined with original wood, and adult-themed, custom designed art pieces from Italian artist Angelo Musko, the space is quite impressive. Intentionally, this is not the “Apple Store” style of minimalist cannabis dispensary; it is lush, warm, welcoming, and aesthetically engaging.
Blair said the idea was to make Down to the Roots a destination for cannabis consumers, and anyone interested in informing themselves on cannabis and CBD usage.
Milliken told the group that the three shared a common goal, to “create a memorable and welcoming experience” for visitors. “We want to be the jewel in Vermont’s cannabis crown.”
The trio say their approach will be different from other cannabis retailers, with a stronger focus on wellness and education. They have enlisted the guidance of Jessilyn Dolan, RN/CMT/CLD, a cannabis advocate and patient. Dolan is vice president of the American Nurse Association-Vermont, chair of the Government Affairs Committee, founder of the Vermont Cannabis Nurse Association, and co-founder of NurseGrown Organics, Vermont hemp and CBD. Blair said Dolan would schedule apppointments at the shop to offer consultations to anyone requesting information on cannabis, such as first-time users, or people with specific medical conditions looking for assistance with finding the right products for them.
A high level of security is in place at Down to the Roots, with multiple cameras, secured entrances and exits, and a dedicated entry for staff and the growers, who won’t be forced to enter through the main door with their product as they do at other establishments. A large staff break room is another detail Blair is proud of, explaining that the health and safety of everyone involved in the business is his top priority.
The team is also putting everything in place to begin manufacturing products, hopefully in four to six months, once they receive their manufacturing license.
Down to the Roots will be the first dispensary in the world to utilize a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled storage system, manufactured by Cannatrol in North Springfield. Using the patented technology Vaportrol, Cannatrol founders Jane Lewis Sandelman and David Sandelman have designed a system that offers consistent temperature control and vapor pressure while storing the cannabis flower.
Blair has been involved with the community since he moved to Chester eight years ago. A native Vermonter, Blair and his wife Leslie own the Southern Pie Cafe on the Chester green. Leslie reported that she’ll continue to run the cafe, while Blair concentrates on growing Down to the Roots. “This is his baby, and the pie shop is my baby,” Leslie remarked.
The dispensary’s three owners have “uniquely different skill sets,” said Blair, and after meeting a year and a half ago, realized they were a good fit. They decided to partner together to open the dispensary in Chester, after the town of Ludlow turned down Goldman and Milliken’s efforts to open a shop there, twice. Once they were introduced to Blair, and Williams stepped in to purchase the former art gallery, the idea of Down to the Roots Cannabis Retail Store became reality.
As of press time, Down to the Roots had not yet received the physical license to operate the facility, which they need in order to officially open their doors. They are hoping to receive the license in the coming week, and open soon. Check their Facebook for official updates at www.facebook.com/DownToTheRootsVT, or visit their website at www.downtotherootsvt.com.