Savannah’s newest hemp shop opened its doors at 106 West Gwinnett Street on March 17 with big plans for its future. Avaloo Hemp Shop by Forsyth Park is the second store location launched by Avaloo Inc., a CBD/Hemp company founded in 2020 by childhood friends Michael Chosewood and Henry Moen (among others) in the North Georgia Mountains of Sautee.
Coupled with Chosewood’s success spearheading the wholesale component of the company, Avaloo’s original store location doing well in Gainesville led to the recent expansion into the Savannah market. Being a Georgia based business, it was important for Chosewood, Moren and the three other primary Avaloo owners to find another peach state city in which to sell its products. Savannah, they say, was the perfect spot.
“We looked into a lot of different places for our second shop location,” said Chosewood in a March phone call with Connect from his residence in Nicaragua (about 40 minutes north of Costa Rican border). “(Savannah) really is a perfect fit for us and we are excited to be a part of everything going on there.”
“Tourists coming to Georgia may not know where Gainesville is, and they may not know about Athens where the University of Georgia is. But what they do know is Savannah, and that Savannah is blowing up as far as the nightlife and tourism and what the city has to offer for those who live there and those who vacation there.”
If Savannah is the go-to destination for Georgian tourists, Avaloo hopes to be the city’s go-to location for consumers of Hemp and CBD products. Avaloo hemp products are already being sold in 3,000 stores across nine states, but the goal is to keep growing, in order to keep growing.
Moen, 24 was the “boots on the ground” portion of Avaloo’s Savannah operation. The Gainesville resident spent a month in Savannah getting the store ready to open, and before the new store was ready to go, one could find him spending his days painting, cleaning, organizing and otherwise prepping for what was to come. He sees the Savannah location as the next step of many for Avaloo.
“We have a really good product first off, and we have great branding which also helps us to get the word out,” Moen said during an early March interview at the Savannah Avaloo Hemp Shop. “We have a great team of people who have supported us along the way. Most of the stores (in Savannah) are already carrying our products, so we’re excited to start doing that ourselves down here.”
Largely dealing in wholesale Cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-8 THC) sales, Avaloo is one of many companies in the hemp industry who have taken advantage of Georgia’s decision to legalize the growing of hemp products within the state. In 2019, Governor Brian Kemp signed the Georgia Hemp Farming Act into law, allowing the product to be grown and sold in the state for the first time since the 1970’s. Delta-8 is federally legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, but 13 states still classify it as an illegal controlled substance.
Now, Georgia farmers will be part of a hemp industry which experts predict will reach $1.9 billion in product sales for the year 2022. Unlike many hemp shops selling herbal products, Avaloo doesn’t need to depend on finding and purchasing goods with which to stock its stores. Instead, they grow it all themselves. From their farm, to their stores, to your pocket.
The list of Avaloo’s offerings is lengthy, but Chosewood and Moen agree that Delta-8 is by far their biggest seller. Recently, Delta-8 has had a rocky road towards legality. Delta-8 and other THC variants were removed from Georgia’s controlled substances list in 2019, provided that they’re derived from hemp carrying no more than 0.3% THC. For reference, marijuana plants can contain as much as 30% THC levels.
“The way we describe Delta-8 is that it is kind of a ‘happy medium’ between CBD and Marijuana,” said Moen when asked to define it. “It is certainly milder and less intense than using actual marijuana and I think that appeals to a lot of people who don’t use marijuana because of paranoia or any number of side effects associated with it.”
Earlier this year in Gwinnett County, convenience stores and hemp shops alike were raided and had their products tested by officials for validity and legality. Many of the businesses selling CBD products were found to be violating the law based on the THC levels found. Avaloo’s Gainesville shop has never had any legal issues with any of its products, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t closely monitoring any and all legislation pertaining to hemp.
“We’ve had the privilege of selling our products to so many Georgians over these last few years,” Chosewood said. “We are staying on top of this and listening to these things because the fact is this: We know the Farm Bill and we know that our intent is true to what the Farm Bill allows.”
When asked how they met each other and how the business venture first began, both Chosewood and Moen agreed that they were business partners almost as soon as they became friends.
“Our mothers introduced us to each other at a local park when we were maybe 3-years-old,” said Chosewood, while chuckling at his recollection. “We became pretty close like 10 years later when we both moved to the same high school and had the same thought process as far as business goes.
“I think I remember us starting almost immediately trying to sell and trade whatever we could. We sold Jet Skis. We sold boats. We were buying imported shoes and selling them. We sold Ray-Ban sunglasses from the back of (Moen’s car) before and after school too. We’ve done everything together, and we haven’t ever really done business without each other since.”
Now, the 24-year-old childhood friends can sell out of Savannah’s Avaloo Hemp Shop. And, if the past is any indication, they’ll be successful in doing so.
Avaloo Hemp Shop is located at 106 W. Gwinnett St., open Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sun. 12 p.m. - 7 p.m. INSTAGRAM: @AvalooSavannah; @AvalooUSA