SALEM — The city's second pot shop is open for business.
"It has been a long time coming so it has been great to open up," said Insa CEO Mark Zatyrka on Monday. "We weren't sure how many people we would see today because it was really hard to publicize the opening."
On Nov. 11, cannabis organization Insa opened its newest recreational dispensary — and its first on the North Shore — at 462 Highland Ave. The company also has locations in Springfield and Easthampton.
Zatyrka explained that while they were approved by Cannabis Control Commission about a month ago, they had to go through multiple inspections before they could open their doors to the public.
Insa Salem was notified on Friday that they could open as early as Nov. 11.
"That is just the way that CCC operates," said Zatyrka. "It is a very involved process and the CCC is doing a good job of making sure that everyone's ducks are in a row before opening."
Two minutes before Insa Salem officially opened, eight customers eagerly waited in line.
Insa Salem features a variety of products behind glass casing, including a dozen strains of flower, multiple options for concentrates, fruit chews with THS and CBD options, chocolate bars, topicals, pre-rolls, and accessories.
Among the accessories are hand-blown glass pipes and other items from Witch Dr. in Salem.
"It is absolutely awesome," said Insa Salem employee Lewis Silvano, 33, Danvers. "They do amazing work."
As the doors opened and customers flooded in, the line never seemed to pile up. Zatyrka said that's reflective of the way staff is trained to handle lines.
"People can be in and out within 10 to 15 minutes easily," he said.
The pot shop also has an express pickup for on-the-go customers.
Prior to opening, Insa Salem's 46 staff members went through a three-month training, where they were educated on CCC regulations, the company's best practices and procedures, and understanding the products sold.
Budtender Rafael Tylus, 23, Danvers, is looking forward to informing the community about the misconceptions people have about marijuana.
"I really see it as an opportunity to educate people about what this product is and what this culture is really about," said Tylus.
"We are pioneers in this whole new industry that is coming up," said budtender Andrea Puleo, 37, of Peabody. "I love being a part of this."
Looking to open his own dispensary in his hometown of Westfield, Curt Gezotis was in Salem to watch Insa's staff in action. He said he was fascinated by Insa's model.
"As an outsider looking in, it is nice to see how these guys are so well trained and everything is running smoothly," said Gezotis.
Working within the ban
On Sept. 24, Gov. Charlie Baker declared a statewide public health emergency that put a temporary four-month ban on the selling of all vape products, including those for marijuana.
For Insa Salem, this meant 30% of their sales. Prior to the ban, the dispensary sold cartridges and other marijuana vaping devices.
Zatyrka said the ban did not affect the shop's opening, but cautioned that the ban is driving consumers to purchase unregulated, black market products.
"We will be able to survive it," said Zatyrka. "I am hopeful that we see the ban end in the coming months."
Insa Salem is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. A grand opening ceremony with a ribbon cutting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday at noon.
Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-338-2527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.