GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — A new Berkshire County dispensary combines sophisticated design, vintage elements, and inclusion to create what the purveyors hope is a unique cannabis shopping experience.
Social media strategist Alexander Farnsworth and his brother Brayden, and fashion designer Adam Lippes launched their joint venture, Farnsworth Fine Cannabis on March 1 with a retail location in Great Barrington. The shop is LGBTQ-plus owned and pledges that 65 percent of the business staff will be made up of LGBTQ-plus, women, racial minorities, and veterans.
Lippes has been a part-time resident of the Berkshires for about 15 years and Farnsworth first had the idea for a high-end dispensary in 2012 when Colorado legalized the plant.
"I kind of fell in love with Great Barrington because it reminded me of a mini Park City where I spent a lot of time growing up," Farnsworth said. "And so one of my very first thoughts upon arriving in Great Barrington was 'this would be the perfect place for a pot shop.'"
Farnsworth said they approached this project with a design-first approach, commissioning London-based architect Simon Aldridge to design the 2,000 square foot space with inspiration from the earliest apothecaries and medical universities in Europe. This includes a minimalist front lobby and an immersive showroom with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling arched cabinetry.
The duo prioritizes having all of their self-branded cannabis products on display so that customers can be properly educated.
"I think really when it comes to cannabis, it's about the educational experience, I think retailers have a responsibility to provide given that it's such a new legalized industry and there are so many complexities and questions," Farnsworth said. "So how we do that is through the visual merchandising of all the products, every product that we sell is on display so you can clearly see what the gummies look like, what the color of the tincture is, so each and every item, you really get to kind of walkthrough in kind of museum quality display."
The dispensary carries a cannabis cigarette that Farnsworth said is the first of its kind amongst more traditional pot products. They are available in light, classic, and bold varieties and feature a filter that keeps heat away from a person's face, are wrapped with organic hemp paper and are marked with the company's signature hummingbird.
In addition to the cannabis products, the shop carries a selection of vintage items including lighters and a large collection of Farnsworth Radios, produced by famed inventor, and relative, Philo Farnsworth. They also stock silver and gold smoking accessories, jewelry, and apparel. All of the items are for sale except the radios.
Product prices range from $2 rolling papers to a $1,900 lighter, so Farnsworth said there is really something for everyone.
"We have a lighter that was worn by Jack Kerouac, him and the beat poets were huge cannabis activists," he said. "And then in addition to having vintage items from England and from Japan, from India, where cannabis has been used for centuries, we have new items that involve cultural characters like Bob Marley, or Keith Haring. And so it's like a mix of all these items really puts the education and it kind of puts it in the middle of cultures and time periods, and icons that go beyond just the past 50 years in America."
To complement the products, they have a Hummingbird Hotline for customer service needs. This can be utilized for product advice, store hours, and even if a customer has used too many cannabis products for their comfort level.
"The most common question that people who haven't been call with is: 'Can we come in and shop?' And I think customers are so eager for that right now," Farnsworth said. "The answer is definitely yes."
The entire project has taken about three years to come to fruition. They did a gut renovation of the dispensary's location on 126 Main St. — which formerly housed a physical therapy office — to make it accessible and added "all-new everything" from the facade to the foundation.
"It's about having a lens on them and making the physical space, the physical viewpoint, smaller range, because when you had an arch, you take away those sharp edges, so it just focuses the viewer on what's inside the box," Farnsworth said.
"With this design, it's on purpose that you enter into a very normalized Main Street entrance, which is a rarity, especially in the Massachusetts cannabis market, where you can see into the lobby from Main Street, a second exposure, and you can see someone sitting behind marble desk, you get just a little preview of the archways behind the desk. So it's a very welcoming environment."
Since their soft opening on March 1, Farnsworth Fine Cannabis has served more than 750 customers and has had a 15 percent return rate within a 30 day period. Farnsworth noted that some customers have returned as many as six times.
"We don't talk much about normalizing cannabis," he said. "We just try to give an experience that achieves that."
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Greylock and Credit Union of the Berkshires Agree to Merger
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Greylock Federal Credit Union and Credit Union of the Berkshires (CUB), both of Pittsfield, have reached a definitive merger agreement subject to the approval of the CUB membership and regulatory agencies.
"We are pleased that Greylock and Credit Union of the Berkshires have reached this merger agreement," said Greylock President and CEO John L. Bissell. "We know that the credit union difference remains strong in Berkshire County. We look forward to completing the merger and
combining the resources of CUB and Greylock to help the community thrive."
With final approval of the merger, Greylock will assume CUB's nearly $23 million in assets.
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