One of Pueblo’s first families of retail marijuana doesn’t fit a stereotype.
Randy Longo, the matriarch, is a retired Pueblo grade school teacher and principal.
Her husband, Louis, is a retired Pueblo police officer. The couple’s business sidelights include past ownership of the Pueblo Athletic Club and storage units.
Their adult son, Kevin, studied business at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Two years ago, the family opened The Canna Cabinet medical marijuana store in a remodeled office and car storage building they own at 2630 W. Pueblo Blvd.
Two months ago, the store added a separate recreational marijuana site, becoming the fifth recreational pot store licensed in the city of Pueblo. The combined store employs seven people.
Through February, the store is celebrating the opening of the recreational dispensary with specials that include storewide discounts. The owners thought about hosting a bigger celebration but struggled to find the time given how busy the store has become.
“The rec side growth has been increasing week by week … and it’s going really well,” Kevin Longo says.
Of the three, Kevin was the only one with any experience with even medical marijuana.
“He (Kevin) was trying to educate me on how much it helps kids and I think that’s what really got to me,” Randy Longo says.
“There was one little girl (with cancer) and he was telling me about how the parents had moved to Colorado because the parents wanted to help her. And it really struck a nerve. I’ve always worked with kids and I thought, ‘Well, if it can help kids, then think how wonderful it is for everybody else.’ Then we just kept talking about it a lot and he kept researching.”
Eventually, she and her husband gave medical marijuana a try for their own pain relief, including her pain from the bone-loss disease osteoporosis. “It helps with the pains I get. And so I know how effective it is. He (Kevin) uses me as a guinea pig to see how I’m going to react because I have a very low tolerance … so I can tell the patients when they come in.”
Building a business
Kevin Longo, who oversees the operations, said the store’s name and simple, woodsy decor reflects the family’s goal of offering a warm, comfortable environment for shoppers, an estimated 65 percent to 70 percent of whom are older adults.
“We get a lot more older clientele, which I was very, very surprised about. Me and my dad both. We thought it would be a bunch of college kids with medical cards. It was quite the contrary,” he says.
Most of the extensive remodeling work, down to the cabinets and tables, was done by the son and the father.
“We pretty much did all of the construction ourselves. I had an idea of making it kind of a 1920s pharmacy feel, a speakeasy feel, but it was just a motif I liked. Not being an interior designer or decorator, it was interesting to see this come to fruition. We just put things together and, hey, it worked. It’s beautiful,” Kevin Longo says.
Sign of the times
One piece of craftsmanship shoppers won’t find is an outdoor sign with the store’s name. The city of Pueblo ruled the “Canna” part of the store’s name violates the city’s rule against using marijuana terms in outdoor advertising. The store disputes the ruling but also likes its name — so there aren’t any outdoor signs with the name.
The key to the store’s success is the quality of its products, owing to its network of top product makers and distributors, Kevin Longo says. “Very unique products. You’re not going to find what I have on the shelf anywhere in Pueblo,” he says.
Customer service also plays an important role, the family says.
“We really do care about this place (Pueblo),” Kevin Longo says.
Adds Randy Longo, “And we care about the patients. They’re our friends. They come and tell us how things are going; share good news and bad news with us. And we cry together if we need to.”
Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The telephone number is 564-2925.