Native Sun marijuana store plans April opening

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Native Sun, located on Route 1, is planning to open its doors within the first two weeks of April. This is one of three recreational marijuana stores to be located in North Attleborough. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
Native Sun purchases products from many Massachusetts-based cannabis companies, but hopes to open its own cultivation facility in Fitchburg. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

The town’s first marijuana stores is wrapping up its inspections and hoping to open the doors very soon.

Marketing Manager Christina Alario said the final inspection will be done on March 29, after which they’ll await word from the Cannabis Control Commission. She hopes that the doors can open within the first two weeks of April. Alario said that people have been visiting Native Sun for awhile now to ask when the big day will be.

We’re confident we’ll pass with flying colors,” said Alario at the Route 1 store on Tuesday.

Located at the former site of Case Materials, Native Sun is a full service marijuana dispensary, with another location in Hudson. Alario said the store will sell everything from flour that can be used to roll joints, pre-rolled joints, edibles of all kinds, and much more. None of the growing or cultivation is done on-site, but a facility in Fitchburg is in the works.

For the time being, Native Sun will wholesale its products from different cannabis brands in Massachusetts. State law requires that products be purchased within the same state as the store itself. With more than 200 recreational marijuana stores in Massachusetts alone, Alario said that several new cultivation sites have come online recently to meet the demand.

One of our requirements that we as a company do is we will not carry people’s products unless we are allowed to go visit their cultivation facility and tour it,” said Alario. “We don’t feel comfortable putting something on our shelves that we haven’t seen. How do they make sure it’s clean? What’s their process like? We want to ensure that it’s up to our standards, so we won’t sell anything from a facility or a brand that we haven’t seen and tried ourselves.”

Alario said this business practice is part of Native Sun’s motto—Carefully Curated Cannabis. Once their own cultivation site is up and running—likely in the next year or so—the company can sell its products to other locations.

We’re excited to have our own growth so that we can start making our own stuff,” she said.

Native Sun’s open design is similar to other marijuana stores in Colorado and California, where legalization happened years ago. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

The North Attleborough location

Native Sun is the first of three marijuana stores that the town has allowed to engage in the permitting process. The other two are Green Leaf Health and at 91 George Leven Drive and Pure Roots on E. Washington Street. Alaria said their site was mostly used for storage before renovations began near the end of 2019. Alaria added that it was a blank slate, and the company’s retail background was helpful in finalizing the design.

We took a lot of time on the design itself of the building and the customer flow and how everything was going to work to make sure we could provide the best experience,” said Alaria.

The new store has an open layout with digital screens showing the products for sale and cases throughout displaying different products. There’s a strong visual aspect to the interior, and Alaria said many cannabis companies are focused on packaging and marketing. There won’t be security guards on site, and instead there will be a state of the art security system.

Alaria said that the layout isn’t a new concept, just new in this area. In states like Colorado and California, where marijuana has been legal for some time, such designs are more common.

They’re all going towards sort of the same models that we’re using here as far as the open floor plans, the bud tenders on the floor helping you out, you know, instead of hidden behind a counter,” she said. “Almost like an Apple Store vibe, but for cannabis.”

Jonathan Laighton will be the store’s general manager and comes with many years of experience in the cannabis industry. He started at NETA, a cannabis store in Northampton, in 2016. Four years later he moved to a medical marijuana program in Brookline and in April 2021 went to Heal Cannabis. He said Native Sun is aligned with what he wanted to do, crediting the company’s moral and ethical basis.

It’s an organization that truly has the opportunity to have an impact on the industry,” he said.

Laighton said that the products at the North Attleborough location will mirror what is sold in Hudson and the hope is to expand into medical marijuana. He said that education is key to the entire experience, and staff undergo a multi-week training program.

We want to educate people on the products,” he said.

Laighton said that the industry has changed much in recent years, with people becoming more knowledgeable on the product. In addition, there are so many more marijuana stores than a few years ago. But he said that people still have questions and staff are still explaining the finer points of the products.

We’ve seen that remain the same and they need someone to just talk to,” he said. “It’s the basis of that customer interaction.