Budr Plans Grand Opening, Will Become West Hartford’s First Cannabis Retailer

Budr will open on July 31, 2023 at 1037 Boulevard. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Budr Cannabis will have a grand opening on Monday, July 31, 2023.

Derrick Gibbs (left) and Carl Tirella are the founders of Budr, pictured in the West Hartford retail establishment at 1037 Boulevard. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford’s first adult-use cannabis retailer will officially open for business at 1037 Boulevard on Monday, July 31, and will hold a grand opening with a ribbon-cutting, music, product discounts, and a welcome from Mayor Shari Cantor and Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Conway.

Budr submitted a site plan application to the Town of West Hartford that was approved last fall, in accordance with the ordinance the Town Council passed in May 2022 which paved the way for cannabis retailers to open in town, subject to certain conditions.

Carl Tirella Jr. and Derrick Gibbs are the co-founders of Budr, which received its license from the state as a Social Equity Joint Venture Retailer. The company is 50% minority owned, and committed to hiring a diverse workforce and furthering social equity in the marketplace, and according to their website the company has “developed and will deploy a Workforce Development Plan designed to enhance equity within the organization through a number of various outreach efforts and training programs as well as provide employment and training opportunities for individuals in our communities.”

Budr originally wanted to open on Arch Street in Hartford, but that plan was derailed by the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA). “I look at it as a blessing in disguise,” Tirella told We-Ha.com during an interview on Monday.

The business founders started looking elsewhere. “But when the West Hartford Town Council approved cannabis and we realized it was going to limited to two, we jumped on it,” Tirella said. He said they worked closely with Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorski, who helped them find the space at 1037 Boulevard, in a building that formerly housed a Subway, Pizza Hut, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Once we settled on this location, we hit the ground running,” Tirella said. West Hartford, he said, “has been one of the easiest municipalities to work with.”

Budr will open on July 31, 2023 at 1037 Boulevard. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“On Monday we will be welcoming Budr, West Hartford’s first adult-use cannabis store,” Cantor said. “This new business will be a first, which gives them the opportunity and responsibility to demonstrate the safest and most appropriate ways to use cannabis. They have stated they feel a great sense of anticipation and responsibility and see this as a business model that is committed to social equity, community engagement and an elevated retail experience tailored to the needs of its customers.”

Tirella has been in the cannabis industry for eight years, and while he lives in New York he has overseen medical cannabis dispensaries in Connecticut for the past six years, and has developed an appreciation for the healing properties of cannabis on patients with PTSD, cancer, epilepsy, and more.

The company has their Workforce Development Plan, which is a requirement, but Tirella said the key to the success of the business will be community involvement beyond what the state requires. Prior to opening, they had already joined the Park Road Association and the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce.

“The West Hartford Chamber looks forward to supporting Budr as they join our local business community,” said Conway. “As the business landscape has evolved over the years, so has our organization in the vastness and diversity of the businesses we represent.”

Regarding the use of cannabis, Tirella said, “The stigma is real in society, and that’s something we don’t run from.” But their business model is to ensure that their employees are well educated about the various products, and are able to educate consumers.

Connecticut regulations allow for the sale of various types of recreational cannabis. “Flower and smoking is not the only way,” Tirella said. While flower will likely be the biggest seller, he said, for those who want to experience cannabis but do not want to smoke, “we can teach and help you along that journey.”

Each customer is treated “as an honored guest,” Tirella said, with their goal being to provide the best and safest possible consumer experience.

The interior of Budr stylishly showcases products amid copper accents. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“The more our customers know, the better their experience,” he said. In the announcement, he stated, “Our goal is to cultivate an environment where curiosity is welcomed, knowledge is shared, and the power of cannabis to foster connection and wellness is celebrated. It’s about raising the bar for our community and contributing to a better society.”

Budr’s website is comprehensive, and explains the various types of products they will be selling, which include not only flower but also edibles, concentrates, and vaporizers.

“As we prepare to open our doors in West Hartford, we feel a profound sense of anticipation and responsibility,” Gibbs, the co-founder, said in a statement. “Budr is more than just a place to buy cannabis; it’s a space where community, social equity, and education intertwine. We’re not just here to sell a product, but to help usher in a new understanding of cannabis and its potential.”

Gibbs’ background is in the home healthcare business, and he has 15 years of experience working with elderly and disabled patients. The website notes that he “always had a desire to offer a product that would help people the way his services did.”

Tirella provided a tour of the front of the business, but said a tour of the back-of-the-house is highly regulated and requires advance approval.

There are cameras everywhere, and security is very tight at the 1037 Boulevard retailer.”It’s probably more secure than the bank,” Tirella said.

Inside Budr’s cannabis retail space, patrons can use the kiosks to select their products. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Patrons can order online from the website in advance – and pick up their orders in about 30 minutes – or order in person at one of the kiosks inside the retailer. Payment must be made by cash or debit card, Tirella said. “Once we have everything going,” Tirella said, they plan to implement “Cannpay,” a Venmo-type service for cannabis purchase, and delivery.

The merchandise wall at Budr features a variety of products that customers can purchase to help build brand loyalty. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

For those who would like assistance, “Budr-tenders” are available to help.

There is also a seating area and a merchandise wall. Budr doesn’t cultivate their own product, Tirella said, and relies on brand loyalty developed through their customer service and knowledge.

Identification is checked on the way into the business (you must be 21), and the exit is through a separate door.

The grand opening celebration starts at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 31, will include music from DJ Kareem and Hot 93.7’s Jenny Boom. Refreshments will be served from 8 to 11 a.m. by Espresso Guys Mobile Espresso Catering Service.

Retail sales will begin at 9 a.m., and the business hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The announcement states that the first 50 customers will receive a 50% discount, and a 20% discount for subsequent purchasers will run through Thursday, Aug. 3. For the grand opening, “guests can look forward to delectable desserts and the chance to receive exclusive Budr merchandise,” according to the announcement.

Budr’s founders emphasize their dedication to “responsibility, ethical practices, and integrity shown through partnerships with people and vendors that share those values,” and state a commitment to training and employing residents from the community, and helping them develop skills that can be transferred to other industries.

Budr plans to grow their business in the state beyond West Hartford, with the goal of opening five stores in Connecticut by 2025. Danbury and Westbrook are listed on the website.

More Than Just Sharkbite, which offers a combination of menu items that includes seafood steamed in bags with vegetables, lobster rolls, fried lobster tails, fried scallops, and other dishes made from fresh fish, opened in early June in the same building. Co-owner Lonnie Arnold said he was looking forward to the opening of Budr.

West Hartford’s cannabis ordinance limits the number of retailers in town to two, and Sweetspot has had a site plan application approved to open just a few blocks away, in the former Caribe restaurant location at the corner of Prospect Avenue and Park Road.

Budr, West Hartford’s first cannabis retailer, will open July 31, 2023 at 1037 Boulevard. Courtesy photo

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