La Colaborativa Director Gladys Vega announced this week that her company, Vida Verde, would pursue a cannabis retail and transportation license at the former tuxedo shop on the Parkway in Chelsea. Vega and business partner, Leah Piantidosi, will pursue the Chelsea license with the goal of having three recreational cannabis shops in the region – with one already in the works for Somerville and another one in Malden. Vega said she considered the marijuana industry when it was first legalized more than three years ago, trying to decide if she would get involved in the new industry.
She said coming from a home where there was drug use was prevalent, and she felt she would be the kind of responsible person to introduce the industry into Chelsea correctly. “Because I grew up in Chelsea, I have experienced growing up in a household where my brother used heavy drugs,” she said. “The abuse of marijuana in our family was very hard growing up. As I got older, I wondered what I would do if marijuana was legalized, and if I would get involved…I want to make sure Chelsea, these businesses go in and come out without doing anything for the residents. Many people become rich and are I and out of our city.
I want to create a foundation and have this do things to support our city. I have invested my whole life into Chelsea and I want to make sure whomever makes an investment in Chelsea gives back to Chelsea.” Vega said one of the main reasons she is involved is, one, for the health aspects that her business partner, Piantidosi, has testified to – finding that it helped her late mother when she had cancer. The other reason is to set up a foundation that will help La Colaborativa and other non-profits continue their critical work in the community.
“My plan is to kick-off these businesses and have Chelsea managers that are able to manage the operations and hopefully three years from now, I can be at all location three locations,” she said. “I want to be able to do that when I have the resources for La Colaborativa and the Foundation is intact and I don’t have to stay up late figuring out how to make our payroll. Right now we’re okay because of the pandemic, but the pandemic is old news and people will forget about it and our blanket of poverty will continue.
The problems from this pandemic will be something we have to battle for years and years. I’m not going to say I don’t want to make money, but I also want to make money for our community.” She said they will be hiring staff, and she said she probably would bring some people along that she trusts to help the business along. Meanwhile, she said security will be paramount, and she would not tolerate loitering, using the product in the surrounding neighborhood or throwing packaging on the ground. She said to prevent such litter, they would tag each package with a unique ID and anything found could be tracked to the customer – who would face consequences if they returned.
She said she plans to really upgrade the old tuxedo shop (Russo’s) on the Parkway, and indicated the shop they are building in Somerville is very luxurious and professional. That will be the same case in Chelsea as well. She said if anyone is to be trusted with this new industry, she said she hopes Chelsea will trust her and her company. “I’ve invested years into Chelsea and I have nowhere else to go,” she said. “Chelsea is my hometown.” GVLP Corp., known as Vida Verde, will have its community outreach