When Maggie Suprey and Nike John met in high school at Nobles & Greenough years ago, Suprey was the vice president of the class and John just a freshmen – with John saying she looked up to Suprey and admired the leadership of the popular hockey star.
Now, the two are working in tandem on real estate ventures, and have just this month proposed to open a marijuana store and delivery service on Cambridge Street across from the Dunkin Donuts in Charlestown – competing against another proposal just down the street at the old R. Wesley’s Bistro headed by Charlestown’s Jack Kelly.
Suprey, whose father grew up in Charlestown and still has several family members that live on or near Bunker Hill Street, said they are an all-woman-owned company, and John – who is a Black American – holds a social equity license from the state. They said they are not the typical company that proposes a marijuana facility, but hope that the City sees their proposal is sound and equitable and will help people in the area.
“We want to be transparent,” said Suprey, who played ice hockey at Brown University after high school. “We understand the concerns. We want to destigmatize cannabis. Being from the city in South Boston and playing sports, I’ve seen people that treat injuries with opiates and go down that slippery slope. I’ve also seen people that treat sports injuries holistically and with cannabis and gummies and I’ve not seen that same slippery slope…We just hope we get a fair shake.”
John said that is something they are already keeping an eye on, as they know the competing proposal has more political connections with Kelly being a life-long Charlestown resident.
“It’s been hard work and we’re learning as we go, but we have all the right people in position to help us and to get this up and running,” said John. “It’s hard if you don’t know the right processes…We feel there is a lot going on behind the scenes and it’s something to watch. It’s taken ISD 30 days now to get us our refusal letter. It’s a standard refusal, which could be strange.”
Added Suprey, “We want to be on an even playing field. Even if we don’t have the same connections – and we do have some connections – we want it to be an equitable playing field and process for both of us.”
Both united when working in real estate with the hopes of getting affordable housing products into the hands of life-long Bostonians like themselves who wanted to stay in the City. As an attorney, Suprey began working closely with John, who was selling real estate. About a year ago, they decided to try to get involved in the burgeoning cannabis industry. After looking all over the city, and finding a place that meets the requirements for cannabis is tough, they found the Cambridge Street location – the site of a former proposal by Bloominus that has been withdrawn.
Suprey had an interest in the industry as she has spent more than two years working as a cannabis law specialist consulting with companies trying to open in western Massachusetts.
“I have been working for the last two and a half years for a cannabis law firm in western Massachusetts consulting on projects there,” she said. “We may not tons of experience with operations, but with structure and compliance (on cannabis law), we’re not going to falter. I know these laws backward and forward.”
John said they have a lot of interest in helping the community, and not just coming in to make a buck and forget about their neighbors. They are proposing a Trust Fund controlled by the Lost Village neighborhood to help fund community improvements. They also want to provide help and support to young people and adults trying to purchase their first home – perhaps through some type of down-payment assistance program for all of Charlestown. Already, they have committed to securing the Lost Village moreso by having cameras, better lighting and more eyes on the street through their security team.
The business, called Heritage Club, is busy now preparing for their Oct. 29 public meeting with Charlestown residents. Though they have competition, they believe they have the better proposal, and they hope the neighborhood agrees.
“Our location, objectively, is better,” said Suprey. “We’re not on a rotary and we have a parking lot and are working on off-site employee parking. You also have two women, also representing the Black and LGBTQ communities. This process was developed to ensure access to people like us.”