For one Leicester farm, the pot shop is standing in the way of Christmas sales
If Nov. 20 had been a normal day, Kim and John Miczek may have sold 25 Christmas trees at Breezy Gardens, their small farm in Leicester that they’ve run for 39 years.
But Nov. 20 was not a normal day.
Down the street from Breezy Gardens, Cultivate opened just days before Thanksgiving, becoming one of Massachusetts’ first recreational marijuana shops, drawing hundreds of customers and ripping business away from the Miczeks.
Only two Christmas trees were sold at Breezy Gardens on Cultivate’s first day of recreational sales. Kim Miczek called the day a “total washout.”
“[Traffic] was totally snarled,” she said. “You couldn’t move. We just sat in here grinding our teeth.”
Located barely a quarter-mile from Cultivate, Breezy Gardens customers couldn’t even make it past the stretching line of cars into the farm’s parking lot.
On Black Friday, when customers normally would flock to buy trees, sales were down about 20 percent from the usual post-Thanksgiving rush.
It’s particularly disappointing for a seasonal business like Breezy Gardens, which closes just before Christmas and doesn’t reopen until Easter. During most of the year, the shop focuses on growing and selling produce and plants.
“We always look forward to the Christmas season, and I’ve got to say, this year’s been a bit stressful,” she said.
The Miczeks were among dozens of residents at an emergency town hall meeting in Leicester on Monday night, demanding answers and solutions from town officials and Cultivate leaders.
Among those solutions, Kim Miczek said Tuesday morning, were plans to change traffic patterns and add a portable toilet to discourage customers from publicly urinating.
A Cultivate spokeswoman said before Monday’s meeting that the most important thing is that “we are being good neighbors in the community.”
“We will be working with the town to improve parking and continue to make this rollout as smooth as possible,” Cultivate spokeswoman Francy Wade said in a statement.
Kim Miczek said the meeting was “productive” and that business Monday was good, considering the weather.
But ultimately, the Miczeks just want to get back to running their shop instead of having discussions about it, she said.
“All in all, a good part of our time is spent in commentary,” she said. “We’re not getting as much work done as we usually get in a somewhat short, frantic Christmas season because we’ve spent an awful lot of time discussing our neighbor.”