Fire Station’s story begins in Negaunee Township with frigid U.P. nights, the potential in a former car dealership, and a couple of recent Northern Michigan University grads with a cannabis dream. Friends Logan Stauber and Stosh Wasik set out to bring a new cannabis experience to the Upper Peninsula in 2019 when they opened the first Fire Station location in Negaunee. This was the second medical dispensary in the U.P. and the first recreational store at the time. Getting to opening day took grit.
“We spent every dollar we had opening Negaunee,” Stauber said. The old car dealership required an extensive amount of work to bring it to code. “Even the planning commission couldn’t believe we were going to turn the building into a dispensary.” The structure still had straw insulation in the walls.
There was a lot to learn, so Stauber and Wasik worked closely with the Negaunee Township Planning Council to make the store a reality. “I cannot give Negaunee Township enough praise. It takes a lot of forward thinking to imagine what’s possible,” Stauber said.
The night that the Negaunee Township Planning Council approved zoning for medical cannabis facilities, Stauber and Wasik were intent on getting one of those applications—only two would be released. To ensure they were first in line, they stayed overnight outside of the township building, taking turns sleeping and getting warm in the car or standing in line.
The possibility of bringing legal cannabis to the U.P. was definitely worth one cold U.P. night for the two friends.
The most challenging part of opening, Logan said, was the cost of the product at the beginning. A gram of flower cost $28 when they opened due to costs related to transportation and acquiring it. And with The Fire Station not being backed by any investors or corporations aside from Stauber and Wasik, the cost of doing business was even higher. Logan and Stosh are among the youngest dispensary owners in Michigan and have bootstrapped and reinvested every dollar they could to grow the company into a successful, thriving operation.
Although The Fire Station is a cannabis leader in the Upper Peninsula, cannabis has been in the U.P. for much longer. The difference, says Logan, is bringing it into the light now with legal dispensaries. One of the goals of The Fire Station is to start the conversation about cannabis and encourage people to explore the medicinal and psychological benefits of the plant. What was previously a product people enjoyed discreetly is now something that can be embraced and enjoyed without the stigma that was formerly associated with it due to its illegal nature.
Today, The Fire Station has five locations across the Upper Peninsula and employs over 150 individuals. With plans to add at least three additional stores in 2022, Stauber and Wasik’s dream has certainly become a reality.