CommCan, a Massachusetts cannabis company that has locations in Millis and Southborough, has been using an old FM transmitter to communicate with customers entering its facility in Millis.
MILLIS — Sometimes it takes old technology to solve modern problems.
Since Saturday, CommCan, a Massachusetts cannabis company that has locations in Millis and Southborough, has been using an old FM transmitter to communicate with customers entering its facility in Millis.
Known as the CommCan Radio, the system was put in place to help the company handle the deluge of customers it received in the past few week in a safe way.
On a regular weekend, 800 to 1,000 customers visit the facility, CommCan President Ellen Rosenfeld said. They are currently seeing close to 1,200 daily. Rosenfeld attributes the rise to other stores closing in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and customers wanting to hoard supply. In the past week, it wasn’t uncommon for a line to envelop the business’ parking lot.
Advice from 4 therapists on how to deal with anxiety, stress during the coronavirus outbreak
But with that increase comes the danger of people spreading the virus, Rosenfeld said. Last Thursday, she spent much of her time making sure people were keeping themselves six feet apart.
“I told my brothers, ‘I can’t do this anymore,” she said. “We got to figure this out.”
We are allowing free access to all coronavirus-related stories that benefit public health and will continue to do so throughout this crisis. We are doing so as a public service. We encourage you to support our locally-focused journalism by subscribing to MetroWestDailyNews.com or to MilfordDailyNews.com
They initially tried to text customers when their products were ready, but cell reception was too poor for that to work reliably, Rosenfeld said.
With the new system, customers arrive at the facility where they receive a ticket before returning to their cars and turning their radio dial to 90.1 FM. Once their name is heard on the radio, they pick up their products and leave.
Mark Abbate, the company’s head of Information Technology, said legally anyone can make use of an unlicensed FM transmitter as long as its single doesn’t extend more than a hundred feet.
Rosenfeld said when the company went to buy the transmitter, they were told many churches were also buying transmitters.
Coronavirus has led many stores to close. Why GameStop, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s, CVS, others are still open
FM broadcasting was first introduced in the United States in the 1930s, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Abbatte picked up a transmitter online for a few hundred bucks, he said.
“It is delightfully retro,” Abbate said with a laugh. “I’m joking now when I say this, but we figured the only problem we’ve had was that there would be young people who wouldn’t know how to use the FM radio. Happily that hasn’t been a problem.”
Abbate said the technology has worked “surprisingly well.” He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the company continued to use the transmitter once the pandemic is over. It will be particularly helpful when the facility has many customers coming in at once.
Cesareo Contreras writes about environmental issues and technology for the Daily News. He can be reached at 508-626-3957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cesareo_r.