Not that long ago, if you had told someone that one day legal pot would be sold right off Chicago's Magnificent Mile, they would have had a quick response.
They would have said you were crazy.
But that all changed on Thursday. Just six months after recreational cannabis became legal in Illinois, Cresco Labs, which operates under the Sunnyside brand, opened a store in Chicago's River North neighborhood.
"If you would have told the younger myself in college that this would be existing next door to a Starbucks, no idea," customer David Muniz said Thursday. "It's really awesome to see this!"
Cresco received final approval on Wednesday. And while there are plans to build a much larger facility at the store in the 400 block of North Clark Street, today a popup location was up and running on that site.
"We thought it would be important to get open as quickly as possible," Cresco's Jason Erkes told NBC 5. "We wanted to be in a main retail corridor, where people live, where people shop, where people work, so this is a big day for cannabis."
For now, it's a multi-step process. Sunnyside takes orders online, then customers are given a two-hour window to appear at a holding area at 22 W. Hubbard. After that, they proceed to the Clark Street store when their order is ready.
"We know what our limit is and how many people we can get through the store on a daily basis and still be COVID-compliant," Erkes said. "We're cutting the number off at a certain number, just to make sure we don't have lines. We don't have a wait period, and are able to sanitize the store between customers."
On Day One, that process maxed out after about an hour.
"It's huge," customer Oscar Carillo declared. "I think it's a great experience to make everyone see it as like anything normal."
At least six other applications are pending in the downtown area. A seventh applicant, Modern Cannabis, says it hopes to have a location on West Ohio Street open sometime next month.