First cannabis shop in Northern Berkshire opens in Williamstown

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WILLIAMSTOWN — The first marijuana retailer in the Northern Berkshires could have opened April 20, which, as its CEO described, is "Christmas for the cannabis community."

Instead, Silver Therapeutics waited until Wednesday morning to open, forgoing long lines and opting for a softer opening.

"It just seemed like the wrong move [to open on 420]," said Silver Therapeutics CEO Joshua Silver. "We didn't want our reputation to be that we were in over our heads, because we could have been opening on a big day like that."

Instead of the rush of customers seen in the early days of the state's first legal weed retailers, the Williamstown shop's opening was more akin to a description of the side effects of one of its marijuana strains — happy and relaxed.

"Actually, it's not crowded at all in here," one customer remarked as he made his way through the store's vestibule and into the retail area. "I thought there was going to be a long line."

The gentle opening will allow staff to work out any kinks before a potentially busy weekend.

"We opened on a Wednesday with the idea that we might be able to get our feet under ourselves before the weekend," Silver said. "Our location helps. We've got this great sea of a parking lot in front of our building, we've got a road with a really good flow and turning lane. I feel good about it."

Silver Therapeutics is now open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, at 238 Main St. in the Colonial Plaza shopping center. A relatively small operation, the store will have about 14 to 16 employees on staff, with about six to eight working at any given time.

It's the fourth cannabis retailer to open in Berkshire County, but the first north of Pittsfield. Not only is it well-positioned to sell to North County consumers, but also visitors from the Albany area in New York and Vermont. The Northern Berkshires was not only underserved, but is a "really cool part of the state," Silver noted.

"We just want to be part of that Northern Berkshire vibe," he said.

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Just because there wasn't a surge of customers as the doors opened at 10 a.m. on Wednesday doesn't mean there wasn't excitement.

Cynthia D. Payne, a resident of Williamstown for 30 years, was the first customer.

"I think cannabis products should be available for everyone," said Payne, who noted she has been using CBD products — the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid present in marijuana — to treat her insomnia.

For some people, Payne said, there are still mixed feelings about marijuana, which some think of as a "gateway drug."

"I think that the medicinal aspects of cannabis products can help a lot of older people [in ways] that they they're not even aware of," Payne said.

Payne walked out with a chocolate bar infused with 100 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana.

"Chocolate and THC? It's the way to a woman's heart," Payne joked. "I'm more interested in edibles than smokeables. At 66, I'm trying to preserve my lungs ... I'm looking forward to coming back and seeing what else there will be."

Online ordering is not yet available, but the menu can be viewed on the store's website. Brendan McKee, chief finance officer, said he expects online ordering and pickup to available through Leafly, a third-party vendor, in the coming weeks. The menu will continue to evolve, and more products will be added, McKee said.

"We want this to be convenient for people. We just want it to be efficient and serve the people with compassion, understand their needs and do whatever we can to help them," said McKee.

A police officer was detailed to the site to monitor traffic on Wednesday. Both the town and company have reported a positive working relationship throughout the process of opening.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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