BATAVIA — The celebration at Empire Hemp Co., LLC, Thursday started with a ribbon-cutting at the company’s store at 204 E. Main St. and ended with a look at the processing and manufacture facility on Swan Street.
CEO Chris VanDusen and Vice President Shelly Wolanske say they opened the store about a month ago after working about four months to get it ready. They’ve had the production facility for about two years.
“We originally started as a hemp processing and manufacture of hemp products that we sell to other retailers and on our website,” VanDusen said. “Then, we decided to open this retail store, because we just got a lot of demand from people for our products here and just wanted to have a good outlet so they could get locally made CBD (cannabidiol) products. We sell oral CBD oils and then we have topicals, including salves, salve balms, which are beeswax-based topical, as well as bath products.”
Empire Hemp Co. in Batavia, ribbon cutting and facility tour on Thursday May 20, 2021
VanDusen said Empire takes hemp from local growers around the area.
“Then we extract the oil out of their hemp material and we basically use that in all our products,” he said at the Swan Street facility. “We have the hemp flowers that we sell over at the store. Everything that’s out there is made right here. We’d been here (at the processing and manufacturing plant) for two years and then we decided to open the store.”
Van Dusen said they had originally opened a little window at the Swan Street building for customers.
“I said, ‘You know what? If we’re doing this good out of this window, if we were on Main Street, we’d probably be doing really well,’” he said. “It was a no-brainer. We took the last four months to make the store and Shelly and I did everything in there. Our products we sell at the store, we (also) sell those wholesale to retailers all throughout New York state.”
Of their products, VanDusen said there are smaller sampler sizes that are affordable.
“That’s what we usually tell people to do is just try them and see how it works for you,” he said. “Then, when they come back, they’re like ‘I really can’t believe it worked,’ That’s what really keeps us going —when people come back and they say that they can’t believe how well it works,” he said.
Wolanske said, “We have lotions, we have different kinds of salves.”
On a tour of the processing and manufacturing facility, VanDusen opened up a larger back of about 100 pounds of hemp flour material that Empire received from growers.
“We have a bunch of growers that we just process their material, put it into bottles and they put their label on it and sell to their customers,” he said. “We have several in the area that do that with us.”
The Empire CEO talked about CBG, a different cannabidiol than CBD.
“This (CBG) has its own benefits, like it helps with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It helps with anxiety differently than CBD,” he said. “We’re just scratching the surface of what cannabis can do as far as helping different people for different ailments. Now that we’re able to do research that’s never been able to be done before, it really gives a validity to the power of this plant.”
Wolanske said the store sees a lot of people who don’t want to use opiates or medicine.
“A lot of older people, they come in and they really benefit from the hemp product CBD,” she said. “It’s really great for helping with pain, anxiety … even general well being.”
The Empire Hemp Co.’s hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. The company’s website may be found at https://www.empirehempco.com/.