GREAT BARRINGTON — A Victorian apothecary is coming to a Main Street building between a toy store and a law office.
No, wait — it's really a cannabis boutique. But from the designer's rendering of the store's Main Street facade, you might not know what's for sale inside.
Calyx Berkshire Dispensary, one of three recreational weed establishments slated for downtown, is on its way to opening in a very public location between a toy store and a law office.
Calyx owner Donna Norman came before the town Planning Board on Thursday for approval about things like lighting, security, parking spaces, trash removal and concealment of products from those younger than 21 who might be milling around outside.
"There's a curved wall, so you can't see into the store," said local interior designer William Caligari, who is adding frosted glass windows to add another layer of screening.
While the board wants to see more specific details from Norman about security cameras and lighting before it grants official approval, it is otherwise ready to give Calyx the green light, now that the state has legalized the sale of recreational marijuana.
But Norman, of Otis, will need this approval before she can get her state license, and about 90 days later, she said, she'll be officially cleared to open shop.
In June, Norman signed a host agreement with the town in which she will pay a 3 percent tax on gross sales and donate $10,000 annually to a town nonprofit of her choosing that provides "health, wellness and/or substance abuse education programs."
Buzzers and phone apps
But the Planning Board is all about the nitty-gritty details of a place, and members asked about it. Local architect Diego Gutierrez showed the board that he had checked off each of the state's requirements for selling what has long been the domain of the back-alley dealer.
And what if there's a mad rush at times, asked board Chairwoman Brandee Nelson, noting the frenzy when the first two cannabis retailers recently opened in the state. This, she said, could be a concern in a tight downtown location.
"It's only newly becoming understood, because this industry is fairly new," she said, citing some data from the Institute of Transportation Engineers that says marijuana shops get a lot of traffic.
Norman said she didn't think it would be a problem, since the more stores that open, the less concentrated visits to one store will be. But if it does happen, she's ready, with restaurant-style reservation tools.
"We'll do whatever it takes to manage the traffic," she said. "But we will not have a line going out the door. We will either have buzzers, or use phone apps. We really want to encourage people to shop at others shops while they're waiting."
Norman's husband, Sean Norman, said that in other states, like Colorado and Washington, where recreational sales are more established, "there's been very little problem with traffic."
"While it looks and appears that it's going to be a very crazy atmosphere, in those other states, it's just like any other store," he said, noting that there will be other stores in town to compete with, including Theory Wellness, which already is open, since it began last year as a medical marijuana dispensary.
So far there are two others in various stages of approval: Commonwealth Cultivation, set for an upper Railroad Street location; and High Minded, which will open in the former United Methodist Church on Main Street, dubbed the "flying-church," and which is under construction.
Location, location, location
Calyx will sit between Tom's Toys and the law office of Cain, Hibbard & Myers. Residents and town officials have pointed out that the dispensary will be sandwiched between two toy stores, since Matrushka Toys and Gifts is on the other side of the law office.
There won't be a security guard, unless a weekend gets busy, Norman said. For that, she'll hire local retired police officers.
Caligari, who said his family has owned this Main Street building for 54 years, has designed something discreet.
The Victorian-era white-painted brick building will be trimmed with black and gold. Inside the immediate reception area, a curved wall and frosted glass will hide the inside, to which admission passes through three ID checks, just as for alcohol sales, Norman said.
"Compliance is the biggest concern," she added.
Norman has held her state-mandated community meeting and said she received "positive" feedback. But Nelson said she had heard mixed opinions from neighboring business owners about sales of cannabis at such a well-traveled location.
"It would be good to converse with them to address any misconceptions," Nelson said.
Heather Bellow can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.