In HearSway

Some years ago, Ben Moran lifted the lid on his parent’s cedar chest, sorted through piles of vinyl, and lowered the record player’s needle on American Beauty. It was then, when most 8-year-olds were discovering the first iterations of Kidz Bop, that Ben became a Dead Head.

Ben’s logo and the inspiration, he and a friend before a tour show in 2019.

The squeak of the lid’s hinges, the yet-unbottled smell of cedar, cardboard and PVC and the sounds of Garcia and Co. transformed young Ben to a place of bliss. Years later, as an adult amid a global pandemic, Ben is entering entrepreneurship by evoking that transformative feeling through his new Southern Pines shop, Cedar Chest Trading Co.

“Really, it’s like a good old-fashioned head shop,” he says, from the rows of Dead-ness in all forms, wall of vintage posters, and knitted sweaters we’ll lovingly refer to here as patchouli ponchos. “When 2020 hit and, well, the world happened, that’s when I started seriously looking into my own business. I took my savings and started working for myself.”

Then, Ben re-connected with an old friend, Michael Greco, a former THC farmer who’s now a rep for organic CBD grower Lovewell Farms in Rhode Island.

“I saw CBD becoming the next frontier, but I didn’t know who to team up with because it can be a shady business,” says Michael (pictured left). “You don’t know who to trust, and what makes them different. For a while, it was coming down to marketing and who has the flashiest packaging. Now, it’s back to the 70’s — know your farmer, know your neighbor, know that it’s taken care of from the seed to the final product.”

With exclusive rights in North and South Carolina, Cedar Chest Trading Co., at 190 Commerce Ave., is the only place you’ll find Lovewell Farm’s products. The rest of the shelves are filled with CBD items from farms that Ben has personally vetted — and, intentionally, no tobacco.

From tinctures, balms, capsules and bath soaks, you’ll find all things CBD-related at Cedar Chest Trading Co. — even hemp flower and hand-blown glass pipes. You know, if that’s your thing. For the skeptics (or the simply curious), Ben can provide a full chemical analysis of all his products.

“I’m very particular about the farmers and farms I get stuff from, so there’s no cross-pollination. The farms I buy from, there is no cannabis grown anywhere on the property.”

And as for the cedar chest? This one houses a different kind of treasure; crafts made by his dad, Jeff, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran. Nearby, you’ll find hand-poured scents like leather and tobacco from Bridle Path Candle Co., owned by local artisan Mary Hassinger.

“I want to be a part of this community, and have a positive impact here,” Ben says. “Partnering with local artisans is one way I can immediately do that, but the shop will continue to evolve and grow over time.”

Shop Cedar Chest Trading Co. at 190 Commerce Ave. in Southern Pines from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday – Saturday; for more info, call the shop at 910-725-2122 or watch for updates on the website here.

This piece was produced in partnership with Cedar Chest Trading Co.

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