Downtown Muskegon’s first cannabis microbusiness opens

Though Muskegon County has an abundance of cannabis dispensaries, IndiGrow is one of a couple of microbusinesses in the community and the first in downtown Muskegon.

Although it has been open for more than a month, IndiGrow, at 639 W. Clay Ave., will have its official grand opening the first weekend of January. A ribbon cutting will be Friday, Jan. 6, with the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce at 4 p.m., and a grand opening party and celebration will follow on Saturday, Jan. 7. The party runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with refreshments served all day, prize drawings and live music from Vincent Hayes from 3-6 p.m. 

Karen Kekelik, administrator and part of the husband-and-wife team that owns and operates indiGrow, explains how a microbusiness is different from a dispensary.  

IndiGrow is located in downtown Muskegon at 639 W. Clay Ave. (Shanika P. Carter)

“A dispensary is like a liquor store,” she says. “They sell other people’s products
there. A microbusiness is like a microbrewery, where we create our own products in-house and we only sell those products.”

Unlike a cannabis dispensary, a licensed cannabis microbusiness is permitted to grow, process and sell cannabis from just one location and sell only products it grows or creates. No outside products are allowed. 

“It’s a different cannabis model—a closed loop if you will—where we have total control over the plant cultivation, harvesting, curing, processing and sales,” said Steven Kekelik, CEO of IndiGrow. The lead grower for IndiGrow, Scott Russo, is a long-time Muskegon-area cannabis caregiver. 

Emphasizing quality

A cannabis microbusiness has a 150-plant limit, compared to other growers who may handle 500 to 5,000 plants at a time. The smaller plant count, according to Karen, means more care and attention to the product, ensuring a better-quality product for the price.

“The store looks much different than a dispensary because we only carry our own products,” Karen says. “Think of a farmer’s market, where you can talk with the people who grew or produced their products. We’re similar to that.” 

Steven Kekelik in a grow room of IndiGrow. (IndiGrow)

IndiGrow’s products, mostly cannabis flowers, are fresher than those at dispensaries because they are grown and processed in the same location and immediately placed on the shelves to be sold.

“This is truly small-batch cannabis. We nurture our plants from seed to harvest and believe the quality, look, and feel of each strain will be obvious to the consumer,” Steven said. “We look at what the plant needs and follow that, versus forcing the plants into a timeline that doesn’t bring out the best product.” 

The plants’ growing cycle is about 158 days, depending on what the growers see during the process.

Variety of products

IndiGrow specializes in cannabis flights—a trio of cannabis flower varieties in ⅛-ounce containers that allow people to smell, taste and feel the different effects of each strain grown. “Like a beer flight at a microbrewery, a cannabis flight is the best way to find your favorite cannabis strain,” Karen says. 

The microbusiness also produces pre-rolls, edibles such as gummies, vape carts, and other concentrates.

IndiGrow partners with local businesses and talent to obtain nutrients, ingredients, and sustainable packaging. Local artists and creatives supply other products, such as cards, artwork, pipes, lip balms, and more.

IndiGrow has a lab to process the cannabis it grows onsite. (IndiGrow)

The facility has several grow rooms for plants at different stages of maturity, a processing lab, and a kitchen for making edibles. 

A meeting and training room is available for local groups and activists, and the business also offers tour packages. 

“There are people that have never seen how cannabis grows, is harvested and processed,” she adds. “ We’ve built a facility that allows for tours, and we welcome people who want a peek behind the curtain.” 

Steven says that when visitors see and understand the process, their experience goes beyond just getting high.

Started as a family business

Steven and Karen Kekelik, who met in college in Indiana, knew they wanted to become business owners. They took their idea to Karen’s dad, who assisted in bringing IndiGrow to fruition. They became licensed in April 2022.

IndiGrow uses QR codes to provide information about products. (Shanika P. Carter)

After beginning as a family business, the microbusiness continues to grow and operate in a family-oriented environment with family and loved ones who are passionate about learning the process of growing and trimming the product.

“We looked outside of the industry and looked for people with experience with their hands,” Steven says. He adds that many of the locals may not have had experience in the cannabis industry, but they were willing to be taught. “Honestly, it’s been the best thing we did.”

Each employee is trained in each area of the facility and labs, gaining experience and the knowledge to educate others about the product.

 All products are tested at an independent laboratory and not remediated. Visitors to IndiGrow’s showroom will find flower tables with scent jars that display QR codes with certificates of analysis, which are present on all the products that provide lab results.

“We like to be very transparent,” says Karen. “We like our customer to know there’s no mold in our products; we don’t put chemicals in our products. We want them to be very informed.”

IndiGrow is open Tuesday through Sunday. Customers can also order online and pick up their items curbside.