EASTHAMPTON — Cannabis consumers have access to another adult-use retail shop on Northampton Street as Fyre Ants has officially opened its doors in a former car dealership.
The city’s fifth cannabis retailer to open for business marked the occasion with a grand opening celebration Saturday, complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, coffee and treats courtesy of Holyoke bakery Totally Baked 413 and even some photo-snapping opportunities to feel like high royalty sitting on a throne of joints while holding a joint scepter.
The throne is a permanent installation of the new business that was constructed by Joseph Pesce of Pygmalion Elements & Sculpture in Easthampton, according to Kot Kasom, who co-manages the business with his wife, Leakhena Kasom.
“We wanted to add something a little different to our space that was fun and really creative,” said Leakhena.
The store took over the former Cernak Buick property at 102 Northampton St., which shuttered in 2020. Samuel Cernak first established the business in 1940 selling Studebakers before becoming a Buick dealership eight years later.
To turn the former dealership into a space that meets the current needs of a cannabis retailer, Leakhena said renovations have been made throughout the entire building, including the installation of new carpets, doors, tiling and display cases. Two chandeliers also have been installed.
One element of the former business the Kasoms have maintained is the showroom windows. By applying tinting to the outside, passersby cannot see into the building during the daytime hours and curtains are drawn when the sun sets.
“We wanted to preserve that light and view of Mount Tom, so that our customers can enjoy that experience,” said Kot. “We wanted to have a more open-feeling space that didn’t feel enclosed like many other dispensaries.”
The entrance to Fyre Ants is located on the side of the building. Once customers check in, they are met with a hallway of paintings that detail a story about the establishment’s namesake. The paintings, which were created by artist Amanda Robbles, takes patrons on a fictional storyline of an ant character finding a treasure map with seeds, a cultivation site, setting sail for a new world and the ant introducing said crop to the new world.
Once inside, patrons will see a display case with two different worlds filled with colonies of ants — one with a beach-like scene and the other filled with greenery and plants as well as marijuana-related paraphernalia.
“Again, we wanted to do something a little different. We chose to showcase the ants because the ants are our characters,” said Leakhena. “With Fyre Ants, we’re building a colony of people — cultivators, vendors and the community — of everyone working together. We’re all working together.”
The “ants” portion of the name Fyre Ants, is actually an acronym, she added. The “a” stands for appearance; “n” stands for nose — and the scent of the bud; the “t” stands for taste of what customers seek when they smoke; and the “s” stands for the strength of the product, according to Leakhena. Fire — or “fyre” as the Kasoms have taken creative license to spell it — is what people use to smoke, she added.
Fyre Ants held a soft opening this past week and had roughly 60 customers on the first day, said Kot. The business’ current hours are Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Outside of its playful approach, Kot says what sets his new shop apart from other recreational marijuana retailers is the quality of his products at a “fair market price.” Kot said that he found a gap in the market to provide products from six different vendors at a lower price.
“We wanted to provide a quality product that’s affordable and accessible to more,” he said.
Apical Inc., which does business as Fyre Ants, was granted a special permit for adult-use retail in 2020.
In late March, the company will also launch another location in Northampton. The 244 King St. site will do business as “Ember,” according to Kot.
The Route 10/Northampton Street corridor has become a center for the recreational-use marijuana industry. In addition to Fyre Ants, there are two other adult-use stores: Liberty, at 155 Northampton St. and Plesantrees at 195 Northampton St. Other Easthampton cannabis retailers are INSA, located at 122 Pleasant St. in the Keystone Mill and The Verb is Herb at 74 Cottage St.
Regulations limit the number of adult-use retail special permits to six. There are currently five issued.
Emily Thurlow can be reached at [email protected].