Even though it was the fourth time going through the process, Theory Wellness founders Brandon Pollock and Nick Friedman felt more than the usual opening day jitters when their Waterville retail shop opened last Saturday.
“Waterville is really where it all began for us,” said Pollock. “We first met on campus during our freshmen year at Colby. It was the start of a decade long friendship that evolved, and continues to evolve, into our business.”
“We’re doing what we love,” added Friedman. “We never thought we’d be in a place, 10 years later where we’re back in Waterville, living the dream of being on the forefront of repealing cannabis prohibition. Our college selves would be very proud, and probably not believe it.”
Theory Wellness opened their South Portland retail shop in October, but Waterville is where the business has “come to life,” as Pollock described it, through the support of the city and their commitment to the community. When the founders first entered the cannabis industry, they always planned on returning to Maine where “cultivators and producers are some of the best in the world,” in Pollock’s opinion.
Theory’s first location was a vertically integrated medical dispensary in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. They cultivate plants for flower and also manufacture the pre-rolls, cartridges and edibles they sell on site and throughout the state.
When they began to build their business here, they wanted to replicate that model in Waterville. That includes hiring experienced and passionate staff that can provide the level of care medical patients might need, even though the store is licensed recreationally.
Now that the retail shop is open at 20 Industrial St., the city has become the center of their operations, with about 35 employees between the production and retail sides. When asked about their plans to expand, Friedman had a humble response. (He was a philosophy major, after all.)
“We always dream big,” he began, “but recognize we need to ensure each step is thoughtful and filled with intent. Opening a recreational cannabis dispensary in South Portland, and now one in Waterville, has been fantastic. We’ll see how we do and grow from there.