Trailblazers: Higher Elevation Embraces Community and Customer Service
Damien Evans used to be “a D.A.R.E. kid.”
“I used to not be a big supporter of cannabis,” said Evans, who is cofounder of Higher Elevation, a future cannabis retailer in Morrisville with his wife, Bailey.
Evans said that his mom and stepdad sat him down to tell him about the medicinal benefits of cannabis as a teenager, but his opinion on the plant didn’t really change much until he was 22, when his wife’s parents offered him a joint. “So I took it, and the rest is history – I became a very big supporter,” he said.
“Community involvement is super important – we’re very much focused on local sponsorships.” — Damien Evans
That fateful toke took place as dispensaries were sprouting up in Michigan, where the couple lived, and as Evans watched the cannabis industry grow in his home state, he began to think more and more about selling his business and getting involved in the industry.
Bailey had spent many summers in the Stowe/Morrisville area with her parents growing up, and with her parents now living in Vermont and discussions around starting a family, they started talking about a move to the Green Mountain State.
Evans sold his business, and they picked up their stuff and moved to Vermont. Damien and Bailey even brought their longtime friend Kyle Cusick with them to be their general manager.
Morrisville, said Evans, is an “up-and-coming” town. New businesses coming in, a large grocery store and big box retailers like Marshalls, along with its proximity to Stowe, make it an ideal location.
“Morrisville is a big hub that’s kind of centralized,” he said. “It means more people coming in and more businesses, moving from out of state and other areas… people are going to have a little more disposable income.”
To start, Higher Elevation will be stocking its shelves entirely with products from small independent growers, and working to showcase craft cannabis and Vermont culture. “Further on down the line we want to do some specialty manufacturing,” Evans said. “Our main goal [right now] is to just get people’s stuff in our store so we can sell it to the public.”
“We want to really give a unique experience to each person that walks in.” — Kyle Cusick
The Evanses have also been active locally and living up to their commitment to the community, sponsoring events like River Arts, a nonprofit community arts center, and the Oxbow Music Festival, a small local summer festival. They also recently sponsored the building of a house through Lamoille Habitat for Humanity.
“Community involvement is super important – we’re very much focused on local sponsorships,” said Evans. His grandmother, who also ran her own business, always engaged in local philanthropy, something he’s taken to heart in his own operations.
Higher Elevation Presents Vermont Cannabis Week 🍁
The other essential piece to their retail storefront is personalized interaction with every single client. “We want to really give a unique experience to each person that walks in,” said Cusick. “We want to be on a first name basis with our customers, and we want you to walk away with products you’re very much happy with.”
The couple have been hard at work growing relationships with area growers and manufacturers, and plan to carry products from brands like Freedom Flower, Life Arises Farm, Highly Rooted and High Brix Cannabis.
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