ATHOL – The first cannabis retailer to open in Athol recently celebrated its first full year in business, and the owner says that despite the challenges, he is generally happy with the ways things have turned out.
“The first year of Elev8 has seen its fair share of challenges,” Seon Adige told the Athol Daily News. “It went really well. I think the most important thing is to bring in the right people to represent us, who are aligned with our core values. In return, we are able to give our customers a superior experience.
“Like any business, we have to keep up with technology sometimes, but we were able to fix any issues right away. We had great standard operating procedures (SOPs), so overall, the first year was amazing.”
The growth of the company, located at 243 Main St. Impressive for any new business.
“We’ve seen 12 percent more growth per month, so we’re really excited about that. We’re just looking to keep growing.
“We took a small hit when a second location was opened. Athol granted two licenses. But we see that hit in our revenue picking up. Our clients are coming back feeling very confident in where we are now as we just move forward.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also posed challenges for new businesses.
“We were supposed to open earlier but we weren’t able to open the timeframe we had planned,” Adige said. “As you remember, Massachusetts was one of the only states that allowed medical dispensaries to operate after the start of the pandemic. It was by order of the governor.
“And in that sense, it took us back a little bit from what we were supposed to open. It cost us some capital. Outside of that, it put us in a situation where the cannabis commissioners also need to go out and decide whether to run a hypothetical investigation or wait until COVID is over. -19 We didn’t know when that was. It would happen.”
Adige said owning the property allowed him to move on. Other businesses, faced with having to pay rents while not generating income, ended up closing their doors.
“We had a great management team to really help us understand how to budget, raise capital and use my real estate as collateral to raise more money,” he explained. “It gave us the money we needed to succeed during the COVID-19 season so we were able to open.
“Even just trying to hire the right team members during COVID-19 has been tough. Some people don’t want to work. But we are very lucky that people wanted to work with Elev8 just because of who we are, our reputation, and our story. So, we have great people on our team as we move forward.”
Currently, about 20 people work on the Main Street site.
“We should see an increase once the Williamstown and Orange stores open,” he said. “We’re expecting anywhere from 40 to 60 employees in total, once all of these stores are open.”
Adige added that Elev8 recently acquired a 60,000-square-foot planting facility in Orange and is in the process of raising more capital for the company. In addition, Adeje says he chooses his suppliers carefully.
He said, “One of the things we’ve done is simplify our system and figure out who we want to grow with. We’re really picky about the companies we work with to make sure their values align with ours and we can really go up together.”
Adige said he was grateful for the good relationship he and Elev8 were able to establish with the people of Athol.
“Without the community we would not have worked at all. They are our biggest supporters, and we are very grateful for that.”
Adige concluded by noting that Elev8 has made a concerted effort to serve not only its customers, but the community as a whole.
“When school started, we did a back to school campaign where we gave out backpacks, we gave out notebooks, folders, crayons, markers, everything that students really need to get back to school. We did it mainly for the kids who couldn’t afford it, But even if you could, we still give you the opportunity to choose things. We do this work not for us but for our community, and as we succeed, we want to make sure that our community shares the fruits of that success.
“We do a lot of community engagement, cross-promotion with local small businesses, and we recruit locally. Ninety-eight percent of our employees are at Athol. Therefore, we are very driven and focused on the community and the loyalty of our customers is the fruit of that.”
Greg Vine can be reached at email@example.com