By Suzanne Ashe
As of noon on today, business owner Tara Bass became the first business certified to sell cannabis in the State of Alaska since pot sales became legal in 2014.
The new 3rd Street establishment won’t be open for business anytime soon, said Bass, a 43-year-old mother of two.
But passing this major legal hurdle puts her business at the front of a very long list. “We’ve got all of our certificates up on the wall, we are pretty excited,” Bass said, a self-described “rules follower.”
The Remedy Shoppe is warm and inviting; there’s a sales counter, a couple of over-sized chairs and pot leaf art in a display case. There is also a large safe behind the counter and several surveillance cameras. But there is no product. Not yet.
“After I bought the property from my parents, I put a sledge hammer through the wall. And I found out it was an old historic home. It belonged to Frank Burns, who was one of [Jefferson Randolph] ‘Soapy’ Smith’s lynch men, or thought to be one of Soapy Smith’s lynch men. He was kicked out of town when Soapy Smith died,” Bass said. “It’s kind of like that lawless time.”
Bass has refurbished the original wood floor giving authenticity to the lore and hint of the history of Gold Rush times.
Like a prospector of yesteryear, Bass went through all of the proper channels at the local and state level to obtain all of the licenses and certificates to open a legitimate business.
She first applied for a conditional use permit last spring and then began to navigate the murky waters of bureaucracy.
“I’m the least-likely person to do this.”
Bass is not a pot consumer, nor has she ever seen a single episode of the HBO show Weeds, where mother of two Nancy Botwin (played by Mary-Louise Parker) starts growing and selling marijuana to make money to support her family after her husband’s untimely death.
Despite not being a member of the “pot culture,” Bass hopes to be ringing up sales soon.
She said she hopes local growers, Coyote and Toad’s Garden, will be given the nod from the Marijuana Control Board to begin as a supplier. But she also vowed to launch her business “low and slow.”
What she says about being the first business to be fully certified is that it’s kind of like running a race. “There were people who were off the line first, but we were the first issued,” she said boasting the certificate number of 10149.
Bass said: although the on-site inspection today went smoothly, it was an “empty jar-type” inspection because she and 40-year-old “budtender” Reba Radey still have no inventory to sell.
“We are excited, we are excited that it will be a place for people to come and buy legal marijuana,” Bass said. Right now the Remedy Shoppe is the only legal pot business in Skagway.
Once the retail store is up and running, consumers will be able to purchase one ounce of product at a time. “It’s not like a bar when you can just keep on drinking,” she said.
The shop has been designed for on-site consumption, with a newly installed 8-foot tall privacy fence and signs indicating that no one under 21 will be allowed on the premises. But Bass has no idea how popular the shop will be. “Maybe we’ll have one person at the door, maybe it will be a long line,” she said adding that she wants to build a business that “fits the community.”