Cannabis retailer Elev8 celebrates successful first year

  • Seun Adedeji, owner of Elev8 cannabis retailer in Athol. Contributed photo

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 11/1/2021 2:33:14 PM
Modified: 11/1/2021 2:33:16 PM

ATHOL — The first cannabis retailer to open its doors in Athol recently celebrated its first full year in business, and the company’s owner says that, despite challenges, he’s generally happy with the ways things transpired.

“The first year of Elev8 had its fair share of challenges,” Seun Adedeji told the Athol Daily News. “It went really well. I think the biggest thing was bringing on the right people to represent us, who aligned with our core values. In return, we’re able to give our customers an elevated experience.

“Like any business, we have to keep up with technology at times, but we were able to fix any problems right away. We had great SOPs (standard operating procedures) in place, so, overall, the first year was amazing.”

Growth for the company, located at 243 Main St., has been impressive for any new business.

“We’ve seen an increase in growth of 12 percent month over month, so we’re very excited about that. We’re just looking to continue to grow.

“We did take a small hit when a second location opened up. Athol has granted two licenses. But we see that that hit to our revenue is rebounding. Our customers are coming back. We’re feeling very confident at where we’re at right now and we’re just pushing forward.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also presented challenges for the new business.

“We were supposed to open earlier but we couldn’t open in the timeframe we planned,” said Adedeji. “As you remember, Massachusetts was one of the only states that only allowed medical dispensaries to operate after the start of the pandemic. That was an order by the governor.

“In that sense, it set us back a bit from when we were supposed to open. It did cost us some capital. Outside of that, it put us in a position where the Cannabis Control Commissioners also needed to come out and make a decision whether they were going to do an investigation virtually or wait until COVID-19 was over and we didn’t know when that was going to happen.”

Adedeji said owning the property made it possible for him to push forward. Other businesses, faced with having to pay leases while generating no 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 a bit more cash,” he explained. “That gave us the cash we needed to make it through the COVID-19 season until we were able to open.

“Even just trying to hire the right team members during COVID-19 was difficult. Some people just didn’t want to work. But we were very blessed that people wanted to work with Elev8 just because of who we are, our reputation, and our story. So, we got great people on our team and we’re just forging forward.”

Currently, about 20 people are employed at the Main Street location.

“We should see an increase once the Williamstown and Orange stores open,” he said. “We’re projecting anywhere from 40 to 60 employees total, once all these stores are open.”

Adedeji added that Elev8 recently acquired a 60,000-square-foot cultivation facility in Orange and is in the process of raising more capital for the company. In addition, Adedeji says he’s choosing his suppliers carefully.

“One of the things we’ve done,” he said, “is streamline our system and find out who do we want to grow with us. We’re really being picky about the companies we’re working with to make sure their values align with ours and we can actually elevate together.”

Adedeji said he was thankful for the good relationship that he and Elev8 have been able to cultivate with the people of Athol.

“Without the community we wouldn’t be in business at all. They are our biggest supporters, and we are very thankful for that.”

Adedeji concluded by noting that Elev8 has made a concerted effort to serve not just its customers, but the community as a whole.

“When school started, we did a back-to-school drive where we gave out backpacks, we gave out notebooks, binders, crayons, markers, whatever students really needed to get back to school. We did it mainly for the kids who couldn’t afford it, but even if you could we still gave you the opportunity to pick out things. We do this business not for us but for our community, and as we succeed, we want to make sure our community shares the fruits of that success.

“We do a lot of community engagement, cross promotion with local small businesses, and we hire locally. Ninety-eight percent of our employees, they’re in Athol. So, we’re very community driven and focused and the loyalty of our customers is the fruit of that.”

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com


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