ST. ALBANS — Anthony Sorrentino’s new business doesn’t have a start date, but he’s already had plenty of interest.
It’s a daily occurrence to see people trying to peek into Motha Plant at Highgate Commons. Mall walkers tend to linger as they turn to take another lap, and a few curious people have wandered through the lobby’s front door to plant their faces against the glass. He can see them all through the one-way sign posted on his front window.
And he’s hoping the same people will become customers when he finally opens the doors.
“I want my mom to look through the window and feel comfortable going inside,” he said.
If approved, Motha Plant will be one of St. Albans’ new recreational cannabis retail stores selling edibles, such as gummies, candies and baked goods, and smokable cannabis flower.
Sorrentino and his family are still waiting for the final licensing from Vermont before they can open the new business, but they’ve spent the last few months preparing to jump feet-first into the state’s newest industry.
“It’s a once in a generation opportunity,” Sorrentino said.
The craft of baking
Like many seeking a future in Vermont’s cannabis industry, Sorrentino is not a stranger to marijuana. He began baking with the ingredient during his college years, and he only got better making his homemade edibles over the next decade.
“It’s a lot of work,” Sorrentino said. “When you’re doing it, it’s a craft.”
The skill, however, wasn’t very applicable to his professional life. He’d gift the baked goods to friends and family over the years, he said, but it was just for fun. When the state rolled out the regulations for Vermont’s newest industry, that changed.
Sorrentino said his wife Ashley pointed out that he could jump into the professional market.
They both had been taking a strong look at changing up their career paths. Sorrentino worked at Enosburg Falls High School as its athletic director, but he ended up leaving the position to open up Motha Plant.
“The opportunity in the state was there, and we had the passion for it,” Sorrentino said.
For the business’ first iteration, he planned to create a specialized manufacturing facility capable of making gummies and other edibles without the need for chemical solvents, and he pinned down a space at Highgate Commons to do the work.
But Sorrentino said they got lucky when they realized that the former Yogurt City space could be easily adapted to serve as the facility’s storefront.
They knocked out a wall and updated the space – adding some green to compliment the clean white modern space – and installed what Sorrentino called a “Flower Bar.”
In the future, the space will be where customers can better check out the quality of cannabis flower through touch and smell prior to purchase.
The “bar” is also an educational tool, Sorrentino said. When he finally opens the doors, he’s looking to use some of his educational experience to teach people about cannabis and answer people’s questions on how it functions.
He’s also already seen a few converts usually from the older generations due to his baked goods, he said, and if people can understand why someone might want a beer or glass of wine at the end of the day, he expects he might be able to show them the benefits of replacing the alcohol with something more green.
And he’s hoping to provide plenty of new flavors – thanks to his baking experience – to sweeten the deal.
“We’re really trying to showcase how natural this is,” he said.
Opening dates, TBD
While Sorrentino still has some work to add the final touches to the space, he said they are almost ready to open up Motha Plant. The last steps are getting the online components up and running and waiting on the final approval from the state.
Until then, he doesn’t mind people peeking through the front windows.
“We’ve got everything planned or coming together,” Sorrentino said. “We’re excited.”