Local women hope to open downtown Potsdam cannabis store in July
Aurora Wood, left, and Kinsey LaPointe plan to open their cannabis dispensary, The Highest Peak, at 25 Market St. in Potsdam by July. Photo submitted.
BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
Kinsey LaPointe and Aurora Wood, both state-approved CAURD license holders [which grants them the ability to sell cannabis products under state law], told North Country This Week that they are hoping for a July opening for their store, The Highest Peak.
The village planning board signed off on LaPointe’s and Wood’s site plan for a cannabis distribution business at the site last week. And, before that the county planning board granted approval. Now it is in the hands of the village board to approve the location and the hours based on the planning board’s recommendation.
While the state is working to set up a cannabis store for one of its state approved license holders at the Tractor Supply plaza on Route 11, LaPointe and Wood have opted to go it alone and handle all of the site location, approvals and contracting work on their own. The state-managed process of setting up a shop site through the state Dormitory Authority [DASNY] and then choosing a licensee comes with a certain amount of red tape and bureaucracy to wade through. Read more about that at https://bit.ly/3IF9fm3
“As a business owner, the fine print that went along with that wasn’t right for us,” Wood said.
“We could find a location on our own and present it to DASNY or lease it on our own,” LaPointe said.
“We’re all North Country born and raised. We want to do the things we can do on our own. We’re all extremely hard workers,” Wood said.
“The lease alone was 100 pages long,” LaPointe said.
So the pair opted to find their location, work with local government and the community and hired their husbands to handle any of the expected contracting work that will be needed to get the store ready for prime time.
“We’ve been really open with our community and with the town and county,” Wood said.
“We didn’t want to come in and blindside them,” LaPointe said.
“Community is definitely one of the top things with us,” Wood said.
Once it is up and running the woman-owned business plans to make regular donations to various community organizations, including the Children’s Museum.
While the red tape and hoops involved in the state’s management of cannabis business was complicated, the pair do appreciate how the licensing process levels the playing field for small businesses and entrepreneurs in a marketplace that could easily be overrun with corporate interests.
“We’re normal North Country people. We didn’t grow up with a lot of money,” Wood said. “This does give the little guy a shot.”
“It gives us a fighting chance,” LaPointe said. “We’re definitely thankful for it.”
The 25 Market Street location was, for decades, the site of Northern Music and Video which supplied guitars, basses, music rentals, sheet music, record albums, and audio visual equipment. After the store’s closure several businesses briefly occupied the space over the years, but none for any great length of time.
The spot is ideally located in the center of the downtown business district and Wood and LaPointe hope the high traffic location will flow into their shop.
Once open, the store will offer pre-packaged state-approved cannabis and CBD products from specifically approved growers. No consumption will be allowed on the site, under state law, and also there is no “vertical integration” which would allow the shop to grow and package its own cannabis products, LaPointe said. Patrons must be 21 and older.
Wood and LaPointe said the business will have staff trained by the state-approved cannabis suppliers and educated on various strains, concentrations and product uses.
While they are pushing for a July opening, they are still “expecting lots of speed bumps along the way,” Wood said.
“I couldn’t have picked a better partner in this,” Wood said.
“We both got really lucky in our partnership together,” said LaPointe.
To learn more about the shop visit https://www.highestpeakny.com/ , or find them on Instagram at https://instagram.com/thehighestpeakny?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA== or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/highestpeakny?mibextid=LQQJ4d .