EASTHAMPTON — Three minutes.
When a new recreational marijuana shop opens on Cottage Street Monday, customers will get their ID’s checked and pay for their product in less than three minutes.
“Our goal is that they show up and it’s a very, very quick transaction,” said Eric Williams, chief operating officer for Canna Provisions.
Williams described the process of checking an ID, handing over a sealed package and using a wireless card ATM reader and then sanitizing the reader after each customer.
“Minimal touching,” Williams said.
Canna Provisions — which is in the process of buying the shop, originally called the Verb is Herb, and changing the name to match the company’s year-old location in Lee and one soon to open in Holyoke — will have the grand opening of its Easthampton shop on the same day recreational marijuana businesses across the state are able to emerge from a state-mandated shutdown to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The Holyoke location at 380R Dwight Street won’t open for about three weeks, Williams said, because inspectors from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission weren’t doing field visits during the coronavirus shutdown. When the Holyoke shop does open, it will likely be the first recreational marijuana shop in the city.
That quick in-and-out isn’t the service-heavy business model Canna Provisions started off with. But Williams said the company is already filming videos and setting up remote video links through services like Zoom so it can hold the hands of first-time users electronically and guide them through their choices.
“But it’s not happening in the store,” he said. “It’ll definitely affect our sales.”
Canna Provisions will also reopen its location in Lee, just off exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike near the New York border, on May 25.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday the phased reopening of the industry as part of a wider relaxation of his stay-at-home advisory. Williams, like other marijuana operators, got detailed instructions from the state Cannabis Control Commission Wednesday.
New rules require appointments for all customers.
Williams aid the goal is to keep everything clean and to keep people from congregating.
At the new Easthampton location, meeting the appointment requirement is easy. The city already required appointments — at least in the initial period after the grand opening — as part of the store’s special use permit, Williams said. Canna will set folks up with a half-hour window for pickup when they place their order.
“We can’t have people congregating,” he said. “If too many people are there at one time, we’ll have to tell people to wait in their car or walk around the block or something.”
In Easthampton, curbside won’t really be curbside. People will have to get out of their cars and complete the sale either in the vestibule or immediately outside. Cash transactions can only happen in the vestibule, per Cannabis Control Commission rules.
It’s hard to offer drive-thru service at the downtown location on a narrow, busy street, Williams said. But he said the city has been cooperative and they’ll probably have a few dedicated spots out front.
The Lee shop will have a drive-thru setup with designated lanes in the parking lot. Canna Provisions has arranged for overflow parking at a neighboring Super 8 motel where customers can park and wait for their time to move into the pickup line.
The Holyoke location will have a drive-thru similar to the one in Lee.
“There we have the perfect setup for it,” Williams said. “It’s a big circular parking lot.”
Williams said it’s exciting just to get back in business.
“It’s been disappointing. Massachusetts is the state that shut down adult use,” he said “It’s been really really hard on us.”
Canna Provisions stopped work on its cultivation operation in Lee to avoid spending down its cash reserves. That project is now delayed.
He also furloughed many of his 70 employees and is now in the process of bringing them back. When the Holyoke shop opens, the company will have more than 100 employees, Williams said.
He is concerned about the marijuana industry in the short term.
“Certain people, I expect are not going to survive this,” Williams said. “But I do expect the industry to ramp back up to where it was.”