Chris Faraone, November 10.2023 https://talkingjointsmemo.com/through-the-looking-glass-at-trade-roots/
“You can see it, you can smell it, the only thing you can’t do from the old days is actually try it before you buy it.”
People entering Trade Roots in Wareham for the first time typically have two points of discovery.
Most customers fix their eyes on the robust product selection in showcases surrounding them—gummies from Glorious, drinks and tinctures from Good Feels, the list goes on.
Seconds later, they look up to the right and spot the shop’s most distinct feature—a floor-to-ceiling window behind the counter revealing one of their actual grow rooms. At which time a lot of folks, especially those who have never seen a full forest of flower just a few feet in front of them before, wonder for a moment if it’s real.
“It’s like a brewery, where you can actually see the vats in the back and you can see behind the scenes,” Co-Founder Jesse Pitts said on a recent tour. “That’s what we’re going for here.”
They tend to keep taller sativa-leaning strains in the back of the fishbowl and shorter plants up front. On the day of our visit, they had Rainbow Belts and Peanut Butter Breath near the glass.
“It’s open, you can see everything, for good or bad,” Pitts said. “That’s transparency in a nutshell. You can see it, you can smell it, the only thing you can’t do from the old days is actually try it before you buy it.”
Pitts knows all about the old days. Long before he met Carl Giannone, a former equities trader and his partner in Trade Roots, the Wareham native moved weight in the legacy market. He was busted with 70 pounds of weed back in 2007, leading to charges and a nine-month county jail sentence that qualified him for the state’s Social Equity program more than a decade later. In the interim, Pitts earned a degree in astrophysics and cultivated as a licensed medical cannabis caregiver.
“A lot of people that come in here are either friends that I grew up with and went to high school with or their parents who knew me growing up and now they’re like, Oh, a lot of things make sense now,” he said.
Trade Roots was the first Social Equity operator in Mass to vertically integrate, with licenses to grow, manufacture, and sell cannabis. One whiff of their store, and their flower, and their game plan, and it’s clear that they go hard in every category. That includes retail; unlike some vertical ops that carry their own goods and little else, Pitts said their wholesale buyers are “constantly on the hunt for craft quality products,” adding, “We’re trying to curate the best menu; if we’re calling ourselves a craft cannabis company, it has to be across all verticals. We need product differentiation on the retail floor.”
Now with 43 employees after nearly two years in business, Pitts said Trade Roots is strong thanks to its team: “The joke about full vertical is that it’s three licenses but it’s really running six businesses. … It’s a lot to do, and it’s really about getting everyone and every department united and to buy into the same vision, the same goal.”
He continued, “Our brand really starts with our employees. It starts when they go home at the end of the day, when they talk to their loved ones, when they talk to their friends, when they go out and have drinks with their friends, and when they’re conversing about how work is. What they say about the company and their employees is your brand.”
And then there are the differentiators. Besides the beautiful glass window, Giannone said they “sell about 300% more tinctures than the state average,” accounting for “a little over 3% of gross sales.” And concentrates, “which are about 6.2% of sales statewide, we’re about 13%.”
Putting their manufacturing license to work, a significant part of the Trade Roots business involves producing distillate and dabs—with their own flower, as well as with product from various partners. Many of their partnerships are co-branded collaborations that they boast about in marketing materials and consumer companions; a gram of mesmerizing Truffle Cake cured resin we picked up came with a booklet noting their friends from Impressed who grew the raw material.
“For everything we carry, there’s a story behind why we carry it,” Pitts said. “We’ve done collaborations with Impressed, Lazy River, Green Meadows, Good Chemistry, and GreenCare Collective. The collaborations are really where we have a lot of fun.”
Looking through the glass and in their vault at all their bonkers flower—Trilla, Georgia Pie, a special Spec Ops that they only sell at their own store—it’s clear there is a lot more fun to be had.
“It’s awesome to do this in my hometown.” For a local who was caught slinging and locked up for doing the same thing he is doing with a license now, Pitts said “it’s a blessing.”
“The D.A.R.E. officer for my school growing up, who was the police chief at the time, came through and did a tour with all the other police officers when we first opened. It was a surreal moment to say the least.”