WEST BRATTLEBORO — Vermont Bud Barn received approval to operate as a cannabis retailer starting next month.
Scott Sparks, founder of Vermont Bud Barn and Vermont Hempicurean, watched Wednesday’s Vermont Cannabis Control Board meeting, where the decision was made. His business is the first of its kind to be approved in Windham County.
Sparks is eyeing Oct. 17 as the opening date.
“That’s my target date,” Sparks said. “It’s a moving target.”
Employees need to get their fingerprints submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for background checks. That requires an appointment with the Windham County Sheriff’s Office, then Sparks will send the prints out by snail mail.
Once he receives the background checks, he will send them to the Cannabis Control Board. The board will then provide IDs for the employees. All of this, too, happens by snail mail.
Regarding whether it can all happen within a couple of weeks, Sparks said, “I have my doubts.”
He has hired 12 employees, or bud tenders. About half of them will work part-time.
To officially set up bank accounts, Sparks will need a physical license in hand. He’s sending the board a $10,000 check for the document.
His team is receiving training on the software that will be used. Sparks called it “the brains of the operation.”
“It’s how you manage the business,” he said, explaining how it keeps track of the cash register, inventory control, reporting for the state and website orders.
Customers will be able to order their cannabis online. They will need to pick it up at the store.
Another big project for Sparks involves ordering cannabis products. That also requires the license to be in hand.
Once the cannabis comes in, it will need to be put into the system and kept in the safe room. Sparks expects to have at least 20 different strains in at least 100 cannabis products. Counting pipes and papers, the estimated number of products climbs to 200.
“It is very exciting,” Sparks said of the approval, acknowledging also how preparations are causing some stress. “I’m trying to take it one day at a time.”
Usually, Sparks is even-keeled and calm. He reported having some sleepless nights as he tries to put the business together.
“I know people are anxious, and they want us to open Oct. 1,” he said, referring to the date in which the retail cannabis market was set to open. “Just be patient. We’re going to get there as fast as we can, but we want to do it the right way. We want to make sure when people come into the store, they have a positive experience.”
Sparks said he might have a grand opening celebration in the spring or early summer. For now, he’s focused on getting things right.
The opening date likely will be announced via social media and vtbudbarn.cannaplanners.com. Sparks also plans to put up a sign out front that says the business is now open.
Vermont Bud Barn was the only application for cannabis retail sales approved by the board Wednesday. Other retailers previously approved in Vermont include Mountain Girl Cannabis in Rutland, FLORA in Middlebury and CeresMed in Burlington, which also runs medical cannabis dispensaries in Brattleboro, Middlebury and South Burlington.