Egg Harbor Cannabis Dispensary Is a Mom-and-Pop Success Story

Brute's Roots is beating the odds with low prices, sun-grown weed and plenty of patience.

Kelly Gatto and Jim DiNatale at Brute's Roots Dispensary in Egg Harbor
Kelly Gatto and Jim DiNatale own Brute's Roots Dispensary in Egg Harbor. Photo: Courtesy of Krystle J. Bailey

Brute’s Roots Dispensary in Egg Harbor is known for its low prices and sun-grown cannabis, both a rarity in New Jersey. Owned by Kelly Gatto, a registered nurse, and her fiancé, Jim DiNatale, who rehabs old industrial buildings, their adult-use dispensary opened in September of 2023 and was voted best dispensary in the state three months later by the industry group Cannademix. Their success hasn’t come easy. A 3.5-year wait for approval because of missteps by the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission almost had them throwing in the towel. And then supply-chain issues left them without a key part for their cultivation facility in Winslow.

[RELATEDNew Jersey’s Cannabis Business Is Booming—But It Sure Isn’t Easy Money]

The missing part became their silver lining. “Rather than sitting and waiting, we asked for a modification to our cultivation license to grow in greenhouses, under natural sunlight, and bought five large greenhouses from the Amish,” says Gatto. “It was something different, and people really, really liked it.” (Most products sold in Garden State dispensaries are corporate-grown indoors under electric light.) They also sell their cannabis to about 30 other New Jersey dispensaries.

Growing their own, without the corporate markup and electric costs, has allowed them to stand out on price. “New Jersey prices are really high,” says Gatto. “We want to be able to provide affordable, safe cannabis, because our biggest competition is the street.”

[RELATED: Cannabis Helped Them Conquer Opioid Addiction. Now They’re Helping Others.]

The long delays and being a loss leader haven’t exactly brought the profits pouring in. But the couple have begun to make up the $800,000 they owe in license fees and are hopeful about the summer, their first for retail sales. With little competition in the southern Shore area, a location just a mile off the Atlantic City Expressway, and their low prices, they are optimistic. Says Gatto, “People walk in and are like, ‘Oh my God,’ because you’re not used to getting this in New Jersey.”

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