Business & Economy

Vermont cannabis retailers report brisk sales in first days of legal market

Kristin Landry, left, hands a customer their order at Ceres Collaborative dispensary in Burlington on the first day of legal retail cannabis sales in Vermont on Saturday, October 1, 2022. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Cannabis retailers are reporting brisk sales in the days since Vermont’s retail market for recreational cannabis opened last Saturday.

“Fantastic” is how Dave Silberman described the first days since he opened his store, FLORA, in Middlebury. “We had a really nice opening weekend. It was a lot of fun. It was exhausting.”

Silberman said customers had about a 45-minute wait when he opened the doors that first day. The nine employees who worked the store Saturday could not possibly have handled more transactions, he said, estimating that about 1,000 people visited the store over the weekend. He said the sales floor can handle about eight customers at a time while another eight customers wait in a lounge. 

What was for sale these first few days was cannabis flower. Silberman said the store offered 11 different strains from five growers sold in pre-rolled joints and in 3.5-gram (about ⅛-ounce) and seven-gram (quarter-ounce) jars. Regulations require all growers must be based in Vermont and all sales must be of cannabis grown and processed in Vermont.

The store closed Monday and reopened Tuesday, when he said it was busy all day long. Silberman spoke to VTDigger minutes after he had opened the store Wednesday. 

At Burlington’s Ceres Collaborative, which also opened last Saturday, chief operating officer Russ Todia said the store had seen lines every day. He said the store has had about 12 customers inside at a time. 

After the excitement of Saturday, Todia said Wednesday, fewer customers came in on Sunday, but more came in on Monday and even more on Tuesday.

“It could just be that word has gotten around that we’re open,” Todia said. 

Ceres has offered about a dozen varieties of flower in eighth-ounce jars, pre-rolled joints and seven varieties of gummies, as well as vape cartridges in different sizes, a distillate hash and a topical salve. He expects more varieties of flower and more edible options to arrive in the next week or two. 

Silberman anticipates that by this weekend, FLORA will have more strains of flower and its first batch of gummies for sale. 

At Thursday’s meeting of the Cannabis Control Board, chair James Pepper acknowledged problems with the diversity of product due to delays in approving licenses.

“But the supply held,” Pepper noted, after retailers and growers initially had said there may be a shortage of supply ahead of recreational retail opening.

Pepper also acknowledged delays in retailers receiving their certificates of occupancy from the state Division of Fire Safety, without which they cannot be licensed. He said the problem is occurring in cities and towns that have municipal inspection agreements with the division, including Barre, Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Hartford, Montpelier, Putney, St. Albans and Winooski.

The board on Thursday licensed one more retailer, Apex Arboretum in Burlington, in addition to four manufacturers, three growers, four wholesalers (including Apex Arboretum) and a lab, SH Lab, in Colchester. 

Vermont now has three labs licensed to test cannabis and five licensed retailers. Mountain Girl Cannabis opened its store in Rutland last Saturday, and Scott Sparks, owner of Bud Barn, in Brattleboro, anticipates opening his store on Oct. 17.

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Fred Thys

About Fred

Fred Thys covers business and the economy for VTDigger. He is originally from Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from Williams College with a degree in political science. He is the recipient of the Radio, Television, and Digital News Association's Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting and for Enterprise Reporting. Fred has worked at The Journal of Commerce, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News, and WBUR, and has written for Le Matin, The Dallas Morning News, and The American Homefront Project.

Email: fthys@vtdigger.org

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