CLINTON – Cannabis dispensaries may not draw the crowds and lines that they did when the first ones opened in Massachusetts in 2018. But New England Harvest, 89 Parker St., did open to “oohs and ahhs” on Friday, July 9, according to Kristen Petrie, director of communications and inventory manager for the facility.
KRD Growers, which operates New England Harvest, has been working on the former warehouse for three years. The adult recreational retail facility is the first portion of the facility to open and looks like a high-end jewelry store. Additional cameras are now being installed to allow them to move into medical marijuana, and a grow and production facility will follow.
“We offer flower and pre-rolls, concentrates, a wide variety of chocolates, fruity gummies, seltzers and drink mixes, and then some unique items like topicals, tinctures and oils that are really fun,” Petrie explained.
Opening day was “a little crazy, but shockingly smooth,” Petrie said. “The community has really embraced us and it was delightful to finally open the doors to a curious crowd.”
“The crowds were steady and it was really nice to have people come in,” said Derek Armstrong, the director of operations.
The facility now employs 10 to 12 people, including several local residents.
“The staff is really the beauty of the dispensary,” Petrie said. “Our staff is fantastic. They legitimately care about the product and know the product and specialize in making recommendations. It is fascinating how long transactions take. If they like something, they nerd out over it.”
Armstrong added that while the atmosphere is friendly, the staff is also strict about upholding regulations. In addition to having to enter through security, cameras cover almost every inch of the building, with the exception of the consultation room where customers can discretely speak to a “bud tender.”
Petrie said they are focused heavily on education, “making sure the customer knows what they are getting.” She added it is not just about finding the product with the highest potency; sometimes, a health issue, like an anxiety disorder, could be made worst by a certain product.
Armstrong said they are working with local marijuana growing and production facilities, including Affinity and Society in town.
“They have embraced us, the other cannabis operations,” Petrie said. Recently, the management of Society, in the old Tyca building on Main Street, gave the staff a tour so they would have a better idea about the products they are supplying.
While there are more dispensaries since marijuana products became legal, Petrie said they are not worried about not having enough customers.
“It’s a big sandbox and I think there’s plenty of room for everyone to play,” Petrie said. “We’ve been blown away by how open and helpful other establishments have been throughout this process and we hope to do the same for others. We all are enthusiastic about cannabis, so why can’t we be friends?”
The retail store is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Customers can find products for preorder online at neharvest.com and pick up their package ready to go. But expect to go through the same security you would do if you were shopping in person.
“What makes us different is ultimately our highly educated, helpful staff, but super competitive pricing and selection certainly helps us stand out,” Petrie said. “We also genuinely care about Clinton. It’s our home now too and we are looking forward to building partnerships with organizations that’ll help to make the area an even better place to live and play.”