PITTSFIELD — Though “Small Business Saturday” helped retailers across the country this weekend, one Pittsfield cannabis store was unable to join in — for reasons beyond its control.
Bloom Brothers announced on its social media channels Friday that it would close its store at 2 Larch St. in Pittsfield as of Saturday because an employee had received a positive COVID-19 test.
That put Bloom Brothers, located just off Merrill Road, in a situation now familiar to small businesses around the region and country, particularly restaurants.
“We had to close because we work in such close proximity,” said Nathan Girard, an owner. The affected employee had not been in contact with co-workers since Nov. 20, the store said in a Facebook post. “As of right now this is an isolated case,” the store said in that message.
Over the weekend, all employees were tested for the coronavirus through Berkshire Medical Center, Girard said in a phone interview Sunday. But because of the timing of the tests, it could be up to a full week before enough negative test results are in hand for the business to reopen. Girard said he was cautioned that because of Thanksgiving, testing volume is up — along with delays in getting results from labs.
“We need 10 people at a minimum to man our store,” Girard said. “Every employee we have is in quarantine.”
Girard said the company acted after a female employee began feeling unwell, then received a positive test. He said Bloom Brothers decided not to go the route of some other cannabis retailers, who he said sanitize their spaces after getting a positive case and then reopen quickly. Cannabis Control Commission rules say only that a retailer needs to follow its standard operating procedures.
The company’s decision is expected to cost it tens of thousands of dollars in lost transactions, as well as depriving employees of paid work time in the holiday season.
As if losing business weren’t bad enough, Girard noted that the company began getting unfavorable reviews from potential customers from outside the area who were unaware of the temporary closing. Over the weekend, Girard took time to contact cannabis industry outlets like Leafly and Weedmaps to update them on the store’s status.
Girard said he is working to get accurate and consistent information about the situation to customers, while acknowledging the difficulty of that. Bloom Brothers co-owners include his brothers, Ben and Nick.
In its Facebook post, Bloom Brothers named some of the steps it is taking in the wake of the worker’s positive test result.
“We are working with health officials and continue contact tracing as well as other safety precautions, including a thorough deep cleaning of our store, which is done regularly,” it said. “We thank you for your patience and understanding while we ensure the safety of our staff and customers.”