SALEM — Salem is about to get its second recreational marijuana shop. 

I.N.S.A. expects to start selling retail pot at 462 Highland Ave. by the end of October, and possibly as early as next week. 

The business got its final license from the Cannabis Control Commission last week, triggering the last leg of preparations ahead of inspections and a final order from the state to commence operations.

The company already runs a medical and retail marijuana store in Easthampton and a medical marijuana dispensary in Springfield. In Salem, I.N.S.A. has converted the former Meineke Car Care Center into a retail pot shop.

Mark Zatyrka, the company's CEO, said I.N.S.A. prides itself on how quickly its customer line moves — partly because customers can make online reservations.

"A lot of the time, there's a very short line — a line that moves very quickly because of the way we process our orders and have packaging ready to go," he said. 

Inside I.N.S.A.'s Highland Avenue store, frosted windows have replaced Meineke's garage doors, allowing in a flood of natural light. A long, winding and warped wooden countertop provides the shopping area for customers. There's a separate line for those who made reservations online.

Overall, about 30 percent of I.N.S.A.'s customers in Easthampton use online reservations to avoid the line, according to Zatyrka.

 

"It's the closest you can get to delivery at this point," he said. 

Like other retail marijuana shops, I.N.S.A. offers edibles, pre-rolled joints and flower. 

I.N.S.A. uses a "cashless ATM system" to handle debit card transactions at their registers with an added $3.50 fee. 

As for getting there and parking, I.N.S.A. is encouraging customers not to use its parking lot, which has a restricted turn onto Highland Avenue. Anyone who parks in I.N.S.A.'s parking lot can't get back to Salem without driving into Lynn first, and anyone coming from Lynn must pull a U-turn in Salem to get to the business.

Instead, the company has leased 50 spaces from neighboring Walmart, where there's an intersection so traffic can enter and exit Highland Avenue in both directions.

"With the speed we're able to move our lines and the efficient way we control traffic and parking, we hope we can maintain a controlled pace and not be too much of a nuisance here on Highland Avenue," Zatyrka said.

Salem police Capt. Fred Ryan said signs and police details will direct customers to the Walmart parking lot. 

There's another challenge for I.N.S.A. that could present unknowns for the company as it launches: How busy Salem is in October. 

"I used to come to Salem every Halloween, so I'm a little aware of how crazy it is," Zatyrka said. "It's definitely something we're keeping our eye on, and it's something the city is also keeping its eye on."

 

Ryan said the police department has few concerns going into I.N.S.A.'s eventual launch.

"They seem to be on board with everything that's going on," he said. "They have another one open in western Massachusetts, so they know what they're doing. They're a little bit ahead of the game in terms of launching things."

When I.N.S.A. opens, it'll join Alternative Therapies Group as the city's operating marijuana retail shops. ATG, which has run a medical marijuana dispensary in Salem since 2015, opened a retail shop at 50 Grove St. in December 2018. 

Contact Salem reporter Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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