“We’re the only fully solventless store for all of our products—even [non-Blue River] products that we carry are solventless.”
Just when I thought cannabis stores were all starting to look, smell, and sound the same, Blue River Terps opened its long-awaited retail store in Cambridge this weekend. Already a banner name in concentrates known for exotic extractions, collaborations, and inventive products like their Rosin Popping Boba, the company is recognized in the cannabis connoisseur community for its proprietary mechanically “deconstructed” solventless live hash rosin—but up until now, their interaction with the local community was a courtship.
“It was a five-year process, and it was challenge after challenge,” said Shanel Lindsay, a co-owner and the company’s executive director. Lindsay is also the founder and CEO of Ardent Life, a cannabis tech business whose devices are available in the Blue River showroom. She continued, “Everybody is a fan of cannabis until a dispensary is coming in their backyard. An entire school came forward to try and oppose us, so we had to go and talk about how good of a neighbor we were going to be.”
Lindsay added, “Our message is, This is what cannabis as a legal enterprise looks like. It’s going to be near you, it’s going to be next door to you. And guess what, it’s going to be an awesome store, and it’s going to look great. People just have these misconceptions about who we are and what our lifestyles are about, but once they actually see that these are people who fought for this and who care about the plant … when you come into the store and see our product, it speaks for itself.”
The whole core ownership team has put work in around the New England weed world—politically, culturally, scientifically. Director of Business Development Michael Latulippe was an early outspoken patient advocate, and CEO Jessica Pelletier noted, “we are also majority women-owned and led and operated. … Michael and Shanel and I have known each other for 10 years. We have had a say in every single thing in this dispensary. It is the essence of a small business.”
And there are a lot of distinguishing factors in play.
“We’re the only fully solventless store for all of our products—even [non-Blue River] products that we carry are solventless,” Pelletier said at their grand opening. The company has an additional Somerville retail operation slated for Ball Square, designating their two flagship stores as the only places where fans can find their full line of goods (which is conveniently displayed on a six-foot tall touch screen in the Cambridge shop).
They also take their gear game seriously, with a section of apparel—mostly designed by Pelletier—that’s more than just a few threads sharper than typical store merch. And that’s essentially the theme for every facet of Blue River’s business; all the details are drilled down, right down to the isolated molecules. Here’s COO Tony Verzura, the Edison behind these powerful inventions, describing their process behind the aforementioned popular popping boba: “If you take live rosin, it’s not just THC like a distillate, it’s all of the nuances in all of the terpenes, so we have to be able to suspend those molecules inside of water and we do that with crazy amounts of sound and energy.”
“It’s innovation at its finest,” Lindsay said. “If you look at Blue River, and what we bring to the table, it’s not a billion products in the store. It’s a very select, curated experience for people that are heady—but also for newbies, because we have a lot of mixed cannabinoid blends, like CBN and CBG, where we’re bringing that wellness experience.”
Be sure to sign up for the Talking Joints Memo newsletter on the bottom of our website if you aren’t already subscribed. One of the upcoming installments for our midweek TJM2 edition will feature our interview with Blue River COO Tony Verzura about the science behind their popular products like Flan solventless extract and “sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, calorie-free, soy-free, and dairy-free … capsules that are powderized like old-school pixy stix.”