Vermont cannabis retailers report brisk sales in first days of legal market

Kristin Landry, left, hands over her order to a customer at the Ceres Collaborative Dispensary in Burlington on the first day of legal cannabis retail sales in Vermont on Saturday, October 1, 2022. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Cannabis retailers are reporting brisk sales in the days since Vermont’s recreational cannabis retail market opened last Saturday.

“Fantastic” is how Dave Silberman described the first few days since opening his FLORA store in Middlebury. “We had a really nice opening weekend. It was much fun. It was exhausting.”

Silberman said customers had to wait about 45 minutes when he opened the doors that first day. The nine employees who worked at the store Saturday couldn’t possibly have handled more transactions, he said, estimating about 1,000 people visited the store over the weekend. He said the retail space can serve about eight customers at a time, while another eight customers wait in a lounge.

What was for sale in the first few days were cannabis flowers. Silberman said the store offers 11 different strains from five growers, sold in pre-rolled joints and in 3.5-gram (about ⅛-ounce) and 7-gram (quarter-ounce) jars. The regulations require that all growers must be Vermont residents and that all sales must be of cannabis grown and processed in Vermont.

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The store closed on Monday and reopened on Tuesday when it said it was busy all day. Silberman spoke to VTDigger minutes after opening the store on Wednesday.

At Ceres Collaborative in Burlington, which also opened last Saturday, Chief Operating Officer Russ Todia said the store saw snakes every day. He said the store had about 12 customers inside at one time.

After Saturday’s excitement, Todia said on Wednesday, fewer customers came on Sunday, but more came on Monday and even more on Tuesday.

“Word might have gotten around that we’re open,” Todia said.

Ceres has offered about a dozen flower strains in 8-ounce jars, pre-rolled joints, and seven varieties of gummy bears, as well as various sized vape cartridges, a distillate hash, and a topical ointment. He expects more flower varieties and more edible options to arrive in the next week or two.

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Silberman expects FLORA to have more flower strains and its first batch of gummy bears for sale this weekend.

At Thursday’s Cannabis Control Board meeting, Chairman James Pepper acknowledged problems with product diversity due to delays in approving licenses.

“But the supply held up,” Pepper noted, after retailers and growers initially said there could be a potential supply shortage before leisure retail opens.

Pepper also acknowledged delays in retailers getting their occupancy certificates from the state Division of Fire Safety, without which they cannot be licensed. He said the problem is occurring in cities that have municipal inspection agreements with the division, including Barre, Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Hartford, Montpelier, Putney, St. Albans and Winooski.

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The board on Thursday licensed another retailer, Apex Arboretum in Burlington, in addition to four manufacturers, three growers, four wholesalers (including Apex Arboretum) and one laboratory, SH Lab, in Colchester.

Vermont now has three labs licensed to test cannabis and five licensed retailers. Mountain Girl Cannabis opened its shop in Rutland last Saturday, and Scott Sparks, owner of Bud Barn in Brattleboro, expects to open his shop on October 17th.

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