WESTPORT — After three years in business, New England Hemp Farm will close its Westport location on Aug. 31, but will maintain its online store and Groton location.
Chief Operating Officer Matt Bannon said business has never been better for the CBD store. But for now he will have to focus on an online sales platform due to the “drastically” increased rent.
“We’ve loved everything about it,” Bannon said of the Westport location, which is just minutes from his home. “We’re going to miss Main Street.”
Bannon said the Westport location has been an opportunity to talk to and educate people about the benefits of CBD, as well as showcase their products.
New England Hemp Farm is in the process of finding a new location to lease, as well as other businesses to partner with to sell their products.
He said most sites are looking for three- to five-year leases, which is “a big commitment when the government can shut you down in a heartbeat in a COVID-like scenario.” Bannon said he would never sign a five-year lease under current world conditions.
NEHF already sells its products at other local businesses, including Weston Pharmacy and Black Rock Pharmacy in Fairfield.
Bannon said the company plans to stay in the health and wellness lane, for now.
Recreational cannabis is legal in Connecticut, even though it’s banned in Westport. Westport has a medical marijuana establishment and another CBD store.
He said he thinks the CBD industry will “surge” with the legalization of recreational cannabis.
Bannon said some customers say they want the benefit of CBD without the THC high.
He said they would like to get into more pharmacies as well as improve their online presence. They have had purchases in 48 states through their online store.
“We think the New England hemp farm has national resonance,” he said. “There’s something about New England that makes people think, ‘Hey, they’re working hard.'”
NEHF offers free shipping with online orders as well as phone and Zoom consultations for their products. The company also has a flagship store in Groton, which will remain open. It is known as “The Barn” and is a modern version of a farm. NEHF products, food and drink are sold there.
Bannon said they want it to be a place that can educate people about CBD, as well as be pet and family friendly.
NEHF is also a member of the Northeast Pharmacy Service, which represents nearly 300 independent pharmacies and helps introduce their products to new business. They also have a 4.9 out of five star rating on Trust Pilot, which Bannon said is one of his proudest achievements.
Bannon said a lot of people would come in just to say “hello” to the Westport location. He said some older members of the community would frequent the store, either just to visit or to buy products.
“We really appreciate the people of Westport, their fairness and open-mindedness when we opened three years ago,” he said.