Brandon Smokeshop opens

The owners of Green Mountain Smokeshop will celebrate their grand opening on Wednesday, April 20, after a soft opening the past three weeks. Owners are: Lance Laraway and Trish Lafayette, Jalna Laraway and Addrain Clayton. Reporter photo/Angelo Lynn


BRANDON — For one couple it’s an opportunity to get in on the ground of a budding retail section, for another it’s a life-long dream to be able to market and sell paraphernalia related to the legalized sale of cannabis. In both cases, the couples are excited to kick-off their grand store opening on 4-20 at the Green Mountain Smoke Shop located on Route 7, just a mile south of Brandon’s downtown.

“It’s a discreet location away from the downtown, but that’s easy to find for visitors looking for the merchandise we have,” said Trish Lafayette, one of the four business partners. She and her fiancé  Lance Laraway, a long-time coach of little league programs in Brandon, along with his mother Jalna Laraway and her partner Addrain Clayton, both of Salisbury, are involved in the startup. As the name suggests, the store will sell a wide variety of pipes, water pipes, bongs, papers, and other related paraphernalia to smoking marijuana, as well as be a distributor of Pittsford-based Vermont Terps CBD oils and products.

“It’s a great company that makes terrific products. We’re thrilled to be able to feature a local company that’s so close to us,” Trish said, adding that the family was looking to partner with other local artists, glassblowers, and others who could display their wares at the store.

Since legislation to legalize the sale of cannabis was passed two years ago, the new law will make it legal for retail shops to sell it this coming October. Owners of the new store in Brandon are betting that pipes and other necessities will be a hot commodities in the near future.

“It’s definitely good timing to be getting into the business now, and work out some bugs so we’re fully ready to go and geared up by next October,” said Lance Laraway, who’s in his early 40s and has been a Brandon resident for the past 15-plus years. “We’ve already spent two months getting this place ready, figuring out the computers, ordering supplies and developing relationships with suppliers, and all of those nuts and bolts things you’ve got to do… But we’ll be in a good position by the time October comes.”

One thing they’ve determined they won’t sell, however, are tobacco and vaping products. “Without a doubt, science shows that tobacco is a killer, and it’s addictive,” Trish said, adding that vaping has also spread throughout the school systems and the family in no way wanted to support that addictive behavior. 

As for the accessories the Smoke Shop will offer, Laraway said the Brandon store would be the only one in the marketplace between Rutland and Burlington and that the partners were positioning the store to be under the higher Burlington prices and convenient to all those people in-between. The store will also sell incense, cotton tapestries, local arts and crafts, and perhaps soon they’ll get into some of the speciality lights and soils needed to grow cannabis inside. 

They’re also considering selling apparel (with their store logo on shirts and caps) and might consider partnering with boutique sellers of cannabis to sell their products out of the store as a cannabis retail outlet, though those details are more onerous and expensive, requiring a state permit to sell cannabis and all sorts of other obstacles to surmount — something they have not yet committed to.

Store hours will be Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and open on Monday or Tuesday in case of emergencies. “If somebody really needs something,” Trish said, “we live nearby and are happy to come open up if they call us, but otherwise, it’s five days a week.”

In the meantime, however, the store’s grand opening is Wednesday, April 20, and based on their “soft opening” these past two weeks, they’re looking for a busy few days.

“For me this is a dream come true,” said Jalna Laraway, 67, who has run the Kingsley Mill Manor in Salisbury since 1986.“Ever since I was 16, I’ve dreamed of the time when marijuana would become legal and I could sell cool stuff in a store like this,” adding that she and her family want to embrace and stimulate the conversation that goes  with it. 

“It’s still a touchy subject for a lot of people,” said Trish, who worked with programs at the United Way of Addison County against drug abuse for three years before the pandemic shut down her person-to-person activities. “Some people still aren’t comfortable with it being legal. So we have to be respectful of those concerns and let people learn more about it at their own pace; keeping it fairly low-key here, while recognizing it’s legal and a part of today’s culture.”

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