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Franchise

Photo by Julianne Mosher

For years, Dee Earle Browning of Wading River had trouble sleeping. She tried changing mattresses, medications and used over-the-counter products to get a good night’s rest. 

But she hated doing that and knew that taking NyQuil wasn’t the best option for her body. That’s when she delved deep into the world of CBD. 

Dee Earle Browning inside her store. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It wasn’t her first time using cannabidiol — an oil that derives from the hemp plant. Browning said for years, she used CBD on her skin — which kept her face glowing and clear. After having back surgery and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she began researching the oil for medicinal and pain-relieving purposes. She and her husband, Lee Browning Jr., wanted to try more holistic approaches to physical, mental and emotional health. She fell in love. 

She said that our bodies accept the cannabinoids in CBD products, and in her sleeping situation, the oil has a natural sleep aid that makes her relax at night. 

“I learned that CBD is best anywhere on you because we have an endocannabinoid system, we have receptors in our body specifically built for cannabinoids,” she said. “So, I found that once I started doing tinctures, and the topical along with that, there was a lot of relief.”

Browning, who worked in the hospitality industry for two decades with chains like Hilton, Marriott and Holiday Inn, said that during the pandemic, she decided to make a career change that she knew could help other people. 

“I always looked at hospitality as an industry of people taking care of people,” she said, “And then COVID happened and our industry got rocked.”

Browning and her husband began researching Your CBD Store, an international franchise that sells products made by SunMed. The company prides itself on using a CO2 extraction process, which eliminates the need for chemical solvents and produces a high-quality, full-spectrum CBD. For their zero-THC broad-spectrum products, the CBD is processed again to remove all traces of THC. Your CBD Store is the retailer that distributes these products. 

“I found that those products were made in the USA — from seed soil, soil to oil — it’s all done here,” Browning said. 

She added that the Your CBD Store franchise has third-party testing for its products. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“There were so many positives about this company, and I was like, ‘this is what I want to do,’” she said. “I already have a background of being in the industry of taking care of people, but this also feeds my passion for health and wellness.”

Based in Florida, the chain has over 600 affiliates in the U.S. and U.K. There was not one Your CBD Store in Suffolk County. The closest location is currently in Long Beach, along with 22 across the Long Island Sound in Connecticut. 

“They’re beautiful stores, and they’re all about educating people about CBD, which was so important to dispel the myths out there,” she added. “I was using it myself and finding results, and the more I read about it, I knew I wanted to be part of the community that dispels some myths and shows that there are some alternative options for health and wellness.”

Browning’s job, not only as the owner of the shop, is to educate each and every customer that walks through her doors. She said people have come in with all different types of ailments — pain, insomnia, anxiety and depression. Some parents use the products to help their children with ADHD or autism. SunMed even has a pet line to help out stressed cats and dogs.

She takes the time to talk to each person and figure out what the best regimen would be. 

“You have receptors in your body specifically for cannabinoids, it’s just figuring out you know how to best produce those cannabinoids,” she said. “It’s also trying out and figuring out what your body actually needs … And making sure you’re taking it in a way that your body is going to absorb it, and it’s going to stay in your system longer.”

Founded by owner Rachel Quinn, Browning was intrigued by the company because it was owned by a woman who sought out pain relief herself.

“I wanted to bring this to the masses, and I really want people to see how much it has helped me,” she said. “It was great because it was founded by a woman in pain and then her desire to share it with everyone. That for me, was so empowering being a woman and a woman of color to have the opportunity to follow in her footsteps and help other people.”

The Port Jefferson Station location opened up on July 12, with an official ribbon cutting hosted by the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce on July 23. The store is located at 590 Patchogue Road (Route 112) across from Moloney Funeral Home in what was once the former location of a Jack in the Box restaurant. 

Browning said that her husband bought the property a few years ago, and nothing had moved into the first-floor storefront. A developer, he helped give the space a facelift, painting and redoing it to give it a beachy spa vibe.

“We want a space that really is welcoming, inviting and makes people feel comfortable to share the challenges that they’re working through,” she said. 

Compared to other CBD retailers, Your CBD Store says it all — it’s there for you.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Your CBD Store is a company that is all about community. It is all about education. It is all about high-quality products. It is all about health and wellness,” she said. “We focus on getting to know our consumers as they come in, so that we can help them make the right choice for them … That’s important.”

Browning said their goal is to educate people and see if CBD can help change their lives the way it did for Browning and her family.

“If you’ve never had any CBD products, here’s an opportunity to come in and try something,” she said. “Whether it’s a topical for pain, water soluble, a tincture or gummy, all of these are set up every day, so that people can at least try it and see if it gives you some of the relief that you’re looking for.”

You can check out the Port Jefferson Station store by following their Facebook and Instagram pages.

 

Young Rocky Point resident Geoffrey Psillos said he is brining mobile fitness to the local area in a new way to exercise post-pandemic. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It’s time to lose the “quarantine 15” — and it can be done outside. 

Geoffrey Psillos, a 22-year-old Rocky Point resident, recently became the first AWATfit (All Weather All Terrain Fitness) franchisee. The Hamptons-based mobile fitness concept uses equipment entirely out of a 20-foot truck, and allows people to exercise in a park, parking lot or outside their home in the driveway. 

“Working out outdoors is a natural mood booster,” Psillos said. “And to have the means to open this franchise is a really big goal I never knew I had.”

The AWATfit vehicle can help people with more than 800 different exercises. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Back in September, he met with the founder of AWATfit, Rich Decker, who encouraged him to become part of the new concept. On the truck itself are 25 pieces of exercise equipment and, by using them, a person can do between 800 and 900 different workouts, according to the new francisee. 

“At the end of the day you are the machine,” Psillos said. “As soon as someone tries it once, they love it. I’m a bodybuilder and I get a better workout on the vehicle than I do at the gym.”

Before getting involved with AWATfit, Psillos was a project engineer but lost his job during the height of COVID-19. Fitness has always been important to him, especially as a former competing bodybuilder. By bringing this franchise to the North Shore, he said he wanted other people to experience its benefits — especially during a time when people might not be entirely comfortable working out in an indoor gym. 

“I think it’s going to change the persona of fitness,” he said. “You don’t get the results you want from a cycle class or a Pilates class. This is different.”

Right now, for a few days during the week, he partnered with Miller Place’s Body Source store on Route 25A where he parks the truck in the parking lot, so clients can work out. 

Elizabeth Sagarin, co-owner of the vitamin supplement store, said that because of the COVID-19 crisis, her shop has seen a decline in customers, but by collaborating with Psillos, she hopes to bring more people in and help everyone get healthy.

“We paired with these guys in the hopes of just giving people a space to work out, feel good, get healthy and just build community,” Sagarin said. “He approached us, and it is a great fit.”

Sagarin, who often participates in the class, said she appreciates the facility. 

“It’s a great workout,” she said. “And it’s all ages, you don’t have to be at any level. It’s fun, you’re outside and he’s a great trainer.”

AWATfit’s workout stations attached to the truck address strength, flexibility, core, agility and cardiovascular matters, as well as the mind-body-spirit connection. 

Now that Psillos has been in business for about a month, he said his clientele is beginning to grow mostly by word of mouth. 

“It’s hard to get people since it’s a new concept,” he said. “But once anyone tries it, they’re hooked.”

He’s planning on bringing a workout truck to communities from Smithtown to Shoreham-Wading River. He’s also looking to bring the truck to retirement homes and senior centers so people can get fit safely.

“Gym facilities in senior citizen community centers are fully closed right now,” Psillos said. “We would love for us to come and provide them with an outdoor answer to meet their needs and by engaging them to be healthy.”

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The McDonald’s in Port Jefferson has closed. Photo by Reid Biondo

A longtime fixture in downtown Port Jefferson closed last week, leaving a business next to Village Hall empty.

The McDonald’s fast food restaurant on West Broadway had been controversial when it first moved in more than a decade ago, but what has been perceived as its abrupt closure has left some scratching their heads. Visitors were met with a sign directing them to a different franchise location in Port Jefferson Station.

“I was totally shocked,” Barbara Sabatino said about when she found out the harborfront restaurant had closed.

The owners and operators of the business, franchisees Peter and Katie Hunt, said in an email statement through a McDonald’s spokesperson on Monday, “It’s been a pleasure to serve this neighborhood and we appreciate the support of the local business community, elected officials and community partners. We are very happy to report that all of our employees have accepted jobs at nearby McDonald’s locations. We remain committed to serving Port Jefferson, and we look forward to continuing our work in this community.”

Sabatino, who runs the Port Jeff Army Navy in upper Port and serves on the village planning board, was a member of the now-defunct civic association at the time McDonald’s was trying to locate in lower Port more than 15 years ago.

“They really had a difficult time,” she said. “[Some people] felt that a McDonald’s did not fit their view of Port Jefferson.”

There were also people on the other side of the argument, she added, who had an attitude of “what’s the big deal?”

While village officials said they were concerned about how the restaurant would look, Sabatino said, the owner was “cooperative” on the architecture and finishing touches, giving it that “seafaring town look, with the dormers on the top and the little trim.”

And the business owner noted that the restaurant has been a good neighbor, cleaning up trash and keeping the property looking nice.

The controversy over it coming in was enough to spur the village board of trustees to take precautions for the future.

According to the village code, officials amended Port Jefferson’s zoning laws in June 2000 to prohibit “formula fast food establishments” in both the C-1 and C-2 central commercial districts, which are located along the main drag in the downtown and uptown areas, respectively.