Athol cannabis retailer closed temporarily due to COVID exposure

  • Marijuana leaf  AP PHOTO/RICHARD VOGEL

For Athol Daily News
Published: 12/9/2020 4:54:01 PM
Modified: 12/9/2020 4:53:53 PM

ATHOL – Athol marijuana retailer Elev8 Cannabis, which opened for business about two months ago, has temporarily closed its doors after learning that one of its associates was exposed to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“As soon as we heard that one of employees was potentially around someone who was affected by COVID-19; one, we sanitized the whole place, we cleaned it up, we closed the shop immediately that Saturday,” Elev8 CEO and founder SeunAdedeji said. “Our customers’ safety is important to us, and our employees are important to us. It definitely affects us, not being able to serve all customers. But we feel we should do the right thing at all times. Integrity is big for us in our organization, so we just want to make sure we do the right thing and take care of our customers. Even though we don’t know yet if (the employee) has it, we’d rather be safe than sorry.

“More than anything, we’re taking every precaution to ensure we’re doing our part to protect the Athol community.”

Adedeji said steps are being taken to make sure workers are virus-free. Around a half-dozen employees are affected by the closure.

“We’re making sure all of our bud tenders are tested. We are amplifying our security measures by doing a hybrid of curbside pickup and walk through now. We’re just making sure that our peoples’ safety and customer safety comes first.”

Adedeji said the business at 243 Main St. will remain closed until this weekend.

“We’re closed until Saturday. We just want to make sure that we’re not opening until all of our employees have been tested and we verify that they’re not COVID-19 positive. “We’re going to try the hybrid approach starting on Saturday and go from there.”

A release from the company said, “Due to the growing COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, the Baker administration has recently put stricter guidelines in place, including a stay-at-home-advisory, strengthened mask order, and early business closures.

‘We are definitely living through unprecedented times, but with vigilance and safety protocols, we’ll get past this,” said Adedeji.’”

Closure of the Athol store does not affect the Elev8’s online service or its dispensary in Eugene, Ore.

While not providing specific number, Adedeji said the closure of his Athol store definitely affects his bottom line.

“We’re losing a lot,” he said, “but we’d rather lose revenue; you can’t place a value on someone’s life. I’d rather lose money right now, in the short term, to make sure our people and customers are safe. That means more to me than just making money.”

In addition to his Athol location, Adedeji has plans to open stores in Orange and Williamstown. This incident will not affect his plans to move forward with the company’s expansion.

“We’re looking to get those open as soon as possible,” he said. “I’m just working right now with our architectural team and our general contractor to get the ball rolling. We have our license, so the only thing we’re working on is just the build out, the construction phase.”

At age 27, Adedeji is the youngest African American to launch a cannabis business in the United States, and Elev8 is currently the second-largest Black-owned business of its kind in the country. Adedeji opened his first store in Eugene in 2017.

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