One of my family’s Thanksgiving traditions is to go around the table and say what we’re thankful for. Last year I said, as always, “my children.” This year I’m saying “CBD.” It’s been a tough year and remote-learning has made me a touch less grateful for my charges.
Franny’s Farmacy (FF), a purveyor of high-end CBD treats, opened the moment we collectively stumbled into our odd new world. While we appreciate the help of therapists, lawyers, and liquor store owners, CBD offers a more affordable, less fattening antidote to our internal maelstroms.
We strolled over to their Church Lane location on a breathtakingly beautiful early afternoon. Diners from nearby restaurants were enjoying long lunches and leisurely glasses of wine in the cordoned-off lane. Griff Conti, the owner of FF, had scattered lovely sunny furniture near his storefront and put out a bowl of water for dogs. The scene was easy, friendly, and made me want to day drink. Nearby visitors nodded their concurrence.
We entered the store and sat in a cozy corner. A few games near the window encouraged customers to sit and stay a while. I chatted with Griff and his marketing director, Ellyn Weitzman.
Ellyn: Have you tried CBD yet?
EW: CBD makes you feel like you’re giving yourself a hug. And who doesn’t need a hug now?
WLM: We all do. What was it like, opening a new CBD store during a pandemic?
Griff: Well, Franny’s is the first new business to open during COVID, after quarantine. At first families walked by the store, stopping for water for their dogs. Then people started coming in, saying things like “I just want to get out of the house!” and “You’re the first person I’ve seen since February!” They were coming for relief. Bravo to the whole lane [for opening up and increasing foot traffic]. I can’t keep product on the shelves, a good problem.
Since Day One we wanted to activate the community on a very local level and bring everyone together at a time when many of us felt anxious, stressed, and even lonely. In our hearts and minds, the entire team at Franny’s Farmacy felt this was the right time and place to introduce a product to the community that could help heal all of us on so many levels.
WLM: Any negative repercussions to a CBD store?
GC: There’s one woman near Sherwood Island who doesn’t get it.
WLM: What’s the difference between CBG and, like, pot?
GC: CBD. Although there is a CBG.
WLM: Riiiiight. My mind was hooked on CBGB’s.
GC: CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis, it won’t get you high. It’s different from the THC cannabinoid which can get you high. CBG is another less well-known cannabinoid which may help slow down cancer.
WLM: What are your popular items and what do you use?
GC: Oh, our gummies are number one, then the honey, the salves, the tinctures. I use the tincture and a little bit of the bath salts for me and the baby [son Julian], and the lotion. My husband Mitchell’s skin care regime is insane. He used to spend hundreds on “high end” skincare products. Now he uses this (waves his arm toward the lotions shelves).
WLM: Okay, let’s stop here. What does CBD lotion do that other lotions don’t do?
GC: (while applying lotion to his hands) Two things. First, hemp permeates layers of skin that other carriers don’t. Second, it’s good for healing scars, inflammation, and discoloration.
WLM: Oh! It helps get rid of scars??
GC: Yeah. But don’t use it on open wounds.
WLM: No. That… sounds painful. So, what about the tinctures and salves?
GC: Franny’s uses the same highly concentrated whole plant extract in all their products, which makes it the real deal and unique to their brand. Her tinctures are for overall wellness. Use them in cooking, rub on an irritation, put them on your temples to help with a headache.
While the lotion has a warming effect, salve is greasier with a cooling effect.
WLM: This is actually a beautiful store.
GC: Thanks! I designed it with guidance from the Franny’s team and my stepfather [Mike Pagett] who’s a local custom cabinetmaker. I didn’t want a glass-case concept, so I took it a step up, using the corporate Franny’s colors, grey and the green. Actually, this is now the look for future premium franchises.
MM: I bet [Mike’s] gotten some business from these cabinets.
GC: My stepfather’s gotten several kitchens out of this!
WLM: So, you were recruiter of the Year at Bradsby for starting their cannabis division. What kind of person works in cannabis? I imagine a bunch of smart hippies wearing tie-die and bandanas.
GC: The cannabis industry is emerging and is beyond the point of hippies and stoners; the money always quietly flowed from a much more professional crowd. For the first few years it was a free-for-all until people realized it was a consumer product. I mean, you do have the certain person who’s attracted to parts of this industry. But we place professionals from CEOs and COOs, to scientists and engineers. These are people entering the cannabis industry from some of the most notable market leaders in the country, coming from consumer goods, retail, manufacturing and more.
WLM: And why Franny’s?
Franny’s just felt different from the others. I was talking to a client, to recruit for a candidate they needed. This client described how they aspired to be like Franny’s. Franny created this seed-to-shelf product, where they have control over quality every step of the way. I wrote her name on a post-it note. I googled it. I was intrigued by what I saw and cold called Franny and said, 'you don't know me but I am a recruiter for the industry and I want in.’
Listen, I love this industry and while we are a business, my real goal is to educate people about the potential of this plant. I am not in it for the money, which is why I haven't quit my day job!
55 Church Lane, Westport