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Cannabis retail store coming to Fairmont

ABOVE: The former Casey’s at 2237 N. State St. in Fairmont will soon be the site of a new cannabis retail facility.

FAIMONT– Minnesota’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana has allowed Michigan-based Emerald Fire Farms to purchase its first location in Minnesota. Plans are in the works to open the retail cannabis facility at 2237 N. State St. in Fairmont later this year.

Emerald Fire Farms President, John Siggerud, has ties to Minnesota as he’s originally from Bloomington. His older brother, Matt, lives in the Twin Cities area.

“Over the course of the past two to three years, we’ve really been watching as legislation (in Minnesota) has been evolving and conversations have been getting more serious,” Siggerud said.

Last summer when Minnesota passed a new law that regulated the sale of Delta-8 THC products, Siggerud said their business created Delta-8 products and brought them to Minnesota to sell wholesale.

“The idea for that was to test the water,” Siggerud said.

He said over the last six months they had began searching in earnest for retail locations in Minnesota. One of the things Siggerud said they’ve learned with their location in Michigan is the benefit of being in a good-sized smaller town with close proximity to a major thoroughfare.

“Obviously Interstate 90 is that major thoroughfare (in Fairmont). You’re fairly close to South Dakota and very close to Iowa,” Siggerud said. “We also wanted to invest in a community that could probably use some new jobs and new opportunities.”

On May 22 there was an auction for the former Casey’s General Store which had sat vacant in Fairmont for a number of years and while Siggerud said they had been looking at about 10 locations, this was in their top three locations.

“We were very excited that we were able to win the auction and right now we’re moving forward. We have a lot of hurdles to go through yet but we’re going full speed ahead,” Siggerud said.

While Fairmont’s store will be their first retail location in Minnesota, they do have a large production space in Bloomington. There they plan to produce their own edible products.

“We want to produce our own products, sell our own products and also sell other people’s products,” Siggerud explained.

Siggerud got his start in the auto body industry. He had a business in Chicago and then worked for a large auto body consolidator. Eventually he was transferred from Illinois to Michigan but after a time found himself tired of the industry.

“I wanted to do something different. I was ready for a change and the opportunity arose to get involved in this industry,” Siggerud said.

Emerald Fire Farms started out as a medical marijuana grower as that was the first opportunity to get licensed in Michigan. It was licensed eight years ago and Siggerud said their background is really on the growing side. They have a 2,000 plant adult use class C license that allows them to grow indoors in Coleman, Michigan.

“We became pretty proficient at growing. We have office space on the front side of our building that we converted to retail space about a year and a half ago. It’s been a huge success for us,” Siggerud said.

He said one of the things he enjoys best about operating the business is getting involved in the community.

“All of the people that work for us are local. All of the contractors we use are local. We sponsor the Boy Scouts, the Wounded Warrior Project. We sponsor little league, all different kinds of events,” Siggerud said.

He said they’re aware that the industry comes with a lot of stigma attached and that many people have preconceived notions.

“We want to be as transparent as we can to the community. That’s what’s made us so successful. We don’t just want to be a business in the community, but part of the community,” Siggerud said.

Anyone in the community is welcome to check out the business once opened and ask questions as Siggerud said he knows a lot of people are curious. He said they want to be able to understand their customers and help figure out what it is they’re looking for, whether for medicinal or recreational use.

“The last thing we want is for someone to buy one of our products without understanding it and have a bad experience,” Siggerud said.

He pointed out that Minnesota plans to have strict testing regulations so any products they produce have to be tested for heavy metals and pesticides.

“All products need to be taxed and regulated. There’s benefits for the state and for the community. There’s also benefits for the consumer because they know it’s been tested and it will be labeled with potency levels for different products which come back to providing a good and safe experience for the consumer,” Siggerud said.

As for the products that Emerald Fire Farms will carry in Fairmont, customers can expect a large variety. There will be everything from actual cannabis buds to vape products and edibles like chocolates and gummies.

“We have caramel corn and microwave popcorn that’s THC-induced. We’ll sell everything out of that location,” Siggerud.

He stressed that they are very aware of their branding and they market specifically to adults. They don’t carry products with childish names and staff are educated on how to educate consumers.

There are plans to remodel the existing building in Fairmont and add on to it as well. Siggerud estimates it will take six to eight months. It will take awhile for the state to regulate it but Siggerud plans to submit their license application soon.

“We know from our experience here (in Michigan) that the first ones to market are typically the most successful and we want to be that person. Our first retail location in Minnesota is Fairmont and we’re putting all of our efforts there right now,” Siggerud said.

As with almost any business, Emerald Fire Farms will provide several opportunities for employment. The retail location in Michigan has over 30 employees with the average pay being between $22 to $25 hourly.

The retail location in Michigan sees about $350,000 worth of sales monthly and Siggerud expects that Fairmont’s location will produce even more than that.

Siggerud is working with Fairmont City Staff on the required zoning and licensing of the facility.

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