The latest Natick, Mass. business news:
Dris delivering its brand of cannabis from Natick base
Dris CEO and co-founder Chris Fevry says Natick’s central location and town officials’ willingness to work with his small business were among the factors leading to one of the state’s early cannabis delivery firms opening at 16 Tech Circle. The minority-owned business this month, through wholesale agreements with marijuana cultivators and product makers, has started to deliver its own Dris brand of recreational cannabis offerings to the 21+ crowd.
“Natick’s not too far from Worcester and close enough to Boston, Waltham, and other larger cities,” says Fevry in a phone interview. Dris gets its name from a combination of Fevry’s first name and that of his co-founder and wife Dharry Pauyo
The town entered into an agreement with Dris in 2022 that paved the way for it to open here, and the Planning Board last May approved special permits to really get things going.
Dris, previously based in Bellingham, started delivering products in 2021 through partnerships with dispensaries under its Your Green Package brand, and has made some 50,000 deliveries, Fevry says. Last year, the company added delivery between cannabis businesses.
Dris is one of a growing number of cannabis-focused companies in Natick, with others including a testing facility in the same building that Dris operates out of, plus medicinal supplier Bountiful Farms, and recreational dispensary Redi, at Cloverleaf Mall. ReLeaf, another recreational supplier, seeks to open this year on Rte. 9 west at the old Papa Gino’s location.
The struggles of early cannabis companies in the state has been well documented, with low wholesale prices among the factors contributing to financial losses and firms going out of business. Fevry is up front about the business challenges faced by participants in this field, though is buoyed by a recent Cannabis Control Commission decision to no longer require 2 people per delivery vehicle—a not insignificant expense. “It’s a big break, a long time coming,” Fevry says.
Having licenses to offer 3 different types of delivery allows Dris to differentiate itself in the market, Fevry says. On the direct retail delivery side, he touts Dris’s selection and pricing on products such as edibles and pre-rolls.
Not all communities in Massachusetts allow for cannabis delivery within their confines. Natick, however, does allow this.
Fevry says Dris has opportunities to make a difference for both its customers and employees. On the customer side, people may still be uncomfortable showing up at dispensaries in person, or may not be able to get to them. On the employee side, he says much of Dris’s management staff has worked its way up from the driving or entry-level roles. Speaking of which, Dris is hiring box truck drivers and drivers for home deliveries.
“It’s been great to see people develop, and fun to grow a team,” says Fevry, who also considers Dris a good example for other Black-owned businesses. Cannabis courier licenses are restricted in Massachusetts to social equity applicants like Dris until next year.
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Inside new Arthur Murray dance studio
The new Arthur Murray dance studio opened this month in Natick Center at the former Fair & Yeager space at 10 North Main St., so I popped in to meet owner and instructor Olga Stepanets, who gave me a quick studio tour.
“It doesn’t look like an insurance office anymore,” I blurted out, clearly shaken at the prospect of being encouraged by Stepanets to take lessons after agilely sliding in my socks across the floor.
I had taken off my shoes, as instructed by signs, so as not to scratch up the hardwood, which gleamed beneath chandeliers.
The facility features a big ballroom with a wall-length mirror, plus smaller spaces for private or smaller lessons. One room has windows facing the street, so passersby can peek in, and dancers can show off.
The studio’s decor includes an impressive trophy area, plus fun posters of dance-y TV shows or movies, such as “Dirty Dancing.” Fortunately, nobody put Bobby in a corner while I was there…
Stepanets says the studio welcomes newcomers, competitive dancers, those looking to learn a few steps for special occasions, and more. Her previous studio was located near the West Natick train station.
On my way out I chatted with a client who said he’s been going to Arthur Murray in Natick for 12 years, ever since learning to dance there for his daughter’s wedding. If you’re so inclined to try out the studio, know that your first lesson is free.
Dunkin’ Donuts getting a makeover
Natick’s not-so-long local nightmare should soon be over. Workers continue to make progress on the makeover at the Dunkin’ shop at 50 East Central St. in Natick.