WILMINGTON – Rato’s Co-Owner of Cannabis Supply LLC Christian Engel had many words to sum up his first day on the job.
“The first day was momentous, epic,” Engel said inside the store about seven hours after opening Saturday. “So happy to be at this point, grateful, lucky, every kind of word to describe a wonderful word.”
Engel and his wife, Jennifer Petit Engel, have been preparing for the day for years. They petitioned the town for a vote in March to allow retail cannabis, which the community agreed to. Another petition brought the matter up for a re-vote in May, and that vote also went in their favour.
Despite the challenges, Engel said he wouldn’t change anything about how the process began.
“It made me appreciate what we have now,” he said.
He expressed his gratitude to the community that has supported the Rato brand over the past decade. The cannabis store is located in a separate building connected to Ratu’s Liquor & Market.
Some clients arrived in tears on Sunday, Engel said, “because they saw the hardships and struggles we had to go through to get to this point.”
“But the feeling is like an abundance of love,” he said. “She’s been cuddling all day.”
Engel described the day before opening as very stressful, between labeling products, preparing to track them, training staff, and everything else. The store works with small farmers across the state, and the plan is to refer customers to other dispensaries if the product is not available in Rato.
Engel thanked the rainy weather on Saturday, saying it keeps large gatherings away. He said Bedtenders can “make mistakes and don’t feel rushed”.
Julia Silverman, a student at Rato, learned a lot about the industry when she was a medical cannabis patient for years in Massachusetts. Having skied in the local area for the past 25 years, I became friends with the owners of Rato’s.
“I said, I have to come work there,” she said from behind the counter on Saturday with a smile. “They’re on edge. They’re supporting the people in the Valley. They’re supporting businesses. They want to see people thrive.”
Bill Brennan, another student at Rato, said he loves his new job. As the starters prepare orders, customers can be heard saying how happy they are with the opening.
Lexie Oliveri of West Dover said she has known Rato’s owners for two years, ever since she moved from Brooklyn.
“I know this was a huge passion project,” she said.
Oliveri wanted to get some cannabis to sleep and support the new store. She’s opening a vintage clothing pop-up shop in the former Norton House Quilting building this month and is excited to have Ratu as a neighbour.
Products are available to meet lower and higher budgets. Customers with a medical cannabis card, issued within or outside the country, will get 15 percent back on their purchase. Veterans will also get the same discount. Local residents receive a 4.20 percent discount.
Rato’s is the second cannabis retailer to open in Windham County. The Fairmont Pod Barn in Brattleboro, owned by Scott Sparks, opened in October.