Meet The Pakalolo Team
A Q&A with Cole Hollister (President and CEO), Tyler Hollister (Vice President Finance), and Keenan Hollister (Vice President) of Fairbanks, Alaska's dispensary and garden, Pakalolo Supply Co. Photos by Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz.
What got your family into the Cannabis industry?
Keenan: We are a Cannabis-friendly family, and it started with seeking out Cannabis medicinally for my sister who has epilepsy. Right about same time legalization came up for a vote, Sanjay Gupta came out with his series. It was coming to light on a national scale that people were having relief from seizures with Cannabis. That's what really got my family into Cannabis openly, although we were all closet stoners before.
How does Cannabis help your sister?
She still is in the process of treatment at the age of 21. She’s gone through phases where pharmaceuticals worked for her, now she is using pharma and Cannabis, trying to get to a point where she can only use Cannabis. It’s been a long process, Cannabis has really helped, but she has to be very careful how she weans off the other medications while transitioning to Cannabis completely.
Do you view Cannabis as a medicine, a recreational drug, or both?
[Cannabis as medicine] is something that is near and dear to our family. We all enjoy recreational aspects as well and believe you should be able to enjoy for wellness and fun. I believe rec use is a wellness thing, it provides something fun and recreational, while also providing some wellness. While we come at Cannabis from a medicinal side, which got us into this industry, I’m a firm believer that rec will benefit people medicinally.
Your garden was the first licensed in the state, and your store made the first legal sale of Cannabis in state history. What was the experience like?
We did a ceremonial sale with a friend of ours from high school. He battled cancer and Cannabis has been a huge part of his treatment. The first sale was one of best experiences of my life, to stand next to my brother with our parents, watching a close friend and rang him up, to be able to have that be the first sale, all coming together in that one legal sale of Cannabis was so exciting.
How does it feel after a few months in?
Now to do that over and over, and come in each morning with a coffee and wake up the plants and say “Good morning” is incredible. It’s an amazing experience to be in the industry. We’ve been leading the charge to get this industry established, and working with so many other great companies that work hard to make this happen, and it’s great to sit here and say we are actually doing it and we all succeeded to make Cannabis legal. It’s a dream come true and a lot of fun.
Have there been any issues since you started? How is supply and demand affecting the store?
We were cranking along in the beginning, functioning for two months before we hit the wall on supply not meeting demand, and pretty much every store in the state either shut down or slowed down. Now we are only open two to four days a week, until more cultivators get licensed and more products come online. The market is constantly growing and there are a lot of consumers already, and there are new consumers all of the time entering the market, so we are just trying to keep up with demand.
Do you think the market is going to start speeding up soon?
I think that the industry is starting to catch up, a lot of the licensees are starting to get product out, and by summer there are going to be a lot of new products available. The demand is so high, it's really exciting and we couldn't be more thrilled by how welcomed we've been into community.
What does the name represent?
We’re called that because it’s the Hawaiian word for Cannabis. We have a family connection to Hawaii, my uncle met a Hawaiian woman and stayed on the island to have a family, and we have always gone back and forth to visit Hawaii and our cousins. We even moved one from the island and his family to work in the company here. We also have a lot of very unique genetics that nobody else has that are Hawaiian based. Kona Gold and Maui Wowie, and we have those strains crossed with newer strains like Mango Diesel, Coffee Kush. We’ve got some really unique stuff you can’t find anywhere else in Alaska.
What are you really proud of?
We are really proud of our no-till gardening and our organic approach to growing, and combining that into practice with Cannabis. We believe we put out a high quality and tasty product! We’re really excited about how we are a no-waste facility—all Cannabis waste goes into compost, we reuse all soil and recycle, and pretty much everything is reused and that's something we are proud of. Our focus is on keeping our footprint one of lowest in the country, with LED lights and low energy consumption. We wanted to be as sustainable as possible and environmentally conscious as possible. It’s our family values. We want to do our best to achieve that, and feel that's the way it should be done.