Ratu's Cannabis Supply

In a photo posted on social media pages, Jennifer Betit-Engel and Christian Engel of Ratu's Cannabis Supply celebrate approval of their license to run a cannabis dispensary. 

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WILMINGTON — Ratu’s is cleared by the state to run its retail cannabis dispensary.

“What a journey,” Christian Engel, co-owner of Ratu’s Cannabis Supply and Ratu’s Liquor and Market, said in an interview after licensing was approved by the Vermont Cannabis Control Board. “We’re just happy to be at this point.”

Engel and his wife Jennifer Betit-Engel expect to get licensing from the town on Nov. 28 or sooner. An opening date will be announced on social media pages for their businesses.

The couple petitioned the town to hold a vote in March on allowing retail cannabis sales in Wilmington, which is required by the state. A petition from concerned citizens brought the matter up for a re-vote in May, and it was once again approved.

Wilmington approves retail cannabis sales, again

Supply is not a concern for the couple.

“We’re at that ribbon cutting stage,” Engel said. “We’re ready to open the shop and offer people amazing, Vermont grown cannabis. There’s so many amazing cultivators out there that we’ve been in touch with since summertime until now. It’s fantastic.”

Before Engel could post Wednesday about Ratu’s Cannabis Supply receiving approval following the Cannabis Control Board meeting, farms and companies were reaching out to congratulate him. Engel and Betit-Engel said they appreciate all the support from local producers, craft producers around the state and the community.

Engel described the couple’s dispensary and others being “on the grassroots side.”

“We look forward to supporting all of the local growers, which is great,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of top shelf cannabis product out there. We can’t wait to offer that.”

In order to stay proactive during the application process, Betit-Engel said, potential employees went through required background checks.

Currently, she believes the store has more cash registers than will be needed. She anticipates staffing logistics will be fine tuned as the couple gets a feel for the foot traffic and their employees’ schedules.

The dispensary is “completely delineated from the liquor store” in a different building next to it, Betit-Engel said. A waiting room where identification will be checked to ensure customers are 21 or older is set up between the dispensary and a space where clothing and shoes are sold.

Engel estimates eight to 10 customers will be allowed in the dispensary at a time.

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“You don’t want to overload your bud tenders,” he said. “But at the same time, the state doesn’t really want people hovering around in the dispensary.”

Betit-Engel said the couple is “very big on wanting to promote the town” so they’re working on a text alert system for letting customers know when their order is available. That’s anticipated to help reduce traffic and lines but also encourage people to shop or eat in Wilmington.

Engel said he thinks customers will become aware of when the dispensary tends to be busiest so they will opt to visit at other times.

The couple imagines ski traffic will boost sales. Engel said winter months in the Deerfield Valley are generally the busiest for every business.

“We feel so honored to be part of this,” Betit-Engel said. “The application process was extremely eye opening, very difficult, but also I feel so honored that we were able to work slowly, and it came from us. It’s not someone doing it on behalf of us. Every single line came from us. It feels good because we feel confident that we know the compliance standards in the state and those compliance standards can be met.”

Engel said he has a “cloud nine feeling.”

“Tears of joy,” he said.

Betit Engel added, “Lots of tears of joy.”

“We’ve had this vision and this foundation we created in 2019, knowing this was going to happen,” she said. “We did all the steps that were necessary. We purchased a building. We needed to have an income from that building.”

Betit Engel said it feels good to finally be at the finish line, and the couple plans to run the dispensary in “a very upstanding and respectful way.” They pride themselves on their store’s vibe and customer service.

“It’s really fantastic to be part of normalizing cannabis on the whole and then ending cannabis prohibition in New England is historic,” Engel said.

Before opening, the couple is planning to invite the Wilmington Police Department and Deerfield Valley Community Partnership to look at the safety and security measures they implemented. They also will be handing out parking pamphlets to let customers know about the parking areas around town.

“We want to make sure we’re really good team players in the town,” Betit-Engel said.

Like the couple promised when they first proposed the dispensary before the town voted on allowing retail cannabis sales, Engel said, they will give 110 percent of their effort to ensuring things are done right.