DANVILLE — At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Cresco Labs opened its Sunnyside Danville cannabis dispensary.
There wasn’t a long line of waiting customers, with customers having to go through an online ordering process due to operations being adjusted initially due to COVID-19.
There were, however, several vehicles in the parking lot, a handful of people outside the building and a few people inside including Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. and Alderman Tom Stone who received a tour of the facility.
Vinny Balsamello and Heather Winkler of Westville were among the first customers.
They said they’ve traveled to Champaign to buy cannabis products.
“It’s too far and too crowded,” Winkler said of the Champaign dispensary.
Balsamello added the Danville dispensary is “bigger and nicer.”
Winkler said she buys cannabis products for stress relief. Balsamello said the products help him sleep.
Balsamello and Winkler said they buy wax pens, pre-rolls of cannabis joints and gummies.
“We’ve tried a little bit of everything,” Winkler said.
She added that she’s glad dispensaries in Illinois “opened doors in our generation.”
There were about 15-20 initial orders through the website, said Mary Cluxton, Illinois regional director of retail for Cresco Labs.
With normal operations, they could see 400 to 600 orders a day, Cluxton said.
Customers are given times to pick up items they ordered online. They receive text messages when the orders are filled.
When going into the store, customers show their IDs and ticket numbers.
Cluxton said most orders were expected to be completed in 15 to 20 minutes, depending if orders got backed up. They generally say orders can be picked up within two hours. Normally, wellness advisors place orders from the customers in person and the customers wait on site.
The dispensary, located at 369 Lynch Drive in the former Big Boy restaurant site, is a recreational, adult-use only store. It isn’t a medicinal cannabis dispensary.
Cresco Labs Chief Communications Officer Jason Erkes said they are having customers go to their website at sunnyside.shop to place orders before coming into the store to minimize the time customers are in the store and make sure it remains a safe environment.
“We chose to do that to protect the safety of our customers and staff,” he said.
This process won’t change starting Friday when some business restrictions are lifted in Illinois. Online ordering will continue for a while, Erkes said.
Erkes said they expect to be busy, but will be watching as orders come in.
They will be sanitizing the store, following social distancing guidelines and staff will have the appropriate personal protective equipment on.
Erkes said the state inspection was completed on the store last week. They received the state license to open on Friday and opened as soon as they could after the Memorial Day holiday.
“We’re excited to open our store in Danville,” Erkes said.
He said many people rely on cannabis such as to help with pain, anxiety and sleep problems. The Sunnyside staff is available to provide information and assist customers.
“(The Danville dispensary) was built from the ground up,” Erkes said. “All of our other stores were converted from medical dispensaries.”
He said the Danville store is larger and “really displays the Sunnyside concept.”
“It’s a very bright and welcoming atmosphere and focuses on education,” he added.
Erkes said there will be a lot of new consumers who have never bought legal cannabis before. Staff called “wellness advisors” will be able to help with the right strain, dose, method of consumption and other questions.
Erkes explained the process for entering the store. Customers will walk in and show their id proving they are at least 21 years of age.
They will then be led into the store where there are different displays separated by form and function.
The store has flower, dried buds that are smoked; vape pens; capsules; edibles and other ingestibles and products.
“There are a wide variety of products, lab tested and a consistent dose,” Erkes said.
There is a big counter in the store with a check out area of about 10 points of sale.
Erkes said customers are asked to show their id a second time to verify if they are an Illinois or out-of-state resident, because there are different requirements for what they can purchase.
The store has about 30-40 employees and can safely, with social distancing, have about 12-15 customers inside at a time, Erkes said.
Cluxton, who oversees multiple stores including Danville’s, said they could reach up to about 60 employees.
There is 24-hour security onsite, with video camera feeds to the state police, officials said, adding that it’s a very secure facility.
Erkes said there’s been a lot of excitement in this whole region for the dispensary. He said they receive a lot of emails through their website and contacts through social media.
Cannabis consumption can be a lot of trial and error, he said about people’s different weights and metabolisms. The employees can work with customers.
“We’re excited to serve the whole community and provide people some relief,” Erkes said.
Danville’s cannabis dispensary is the first cannabis retail store to open in eastern Illinois. Cresco Labs of Chicago is a multistate cannabis operator. The Danville store is its sixth in Illinois. Four more will be opening in the Chicago, Schaumburg and South Beloit areas.
The Danville store has 4,800 square feet of space. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
Last year, prior to the legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois on Jan. 1, the Danville City Council approved a 3 percent tax on cannabis purchases.