After months of preparation, staff training and stocking, Debra and Don Dana were ecstatic about the opening of their Maryville business.

The couple, originally from Houston, moved here about a year ago. Debra said she had wanted to open a CBD (cannabidiol) retail store and put the plans in motion. Things were fantastic on that first day, which was March 20. The banner for Twisted Sister Juice and CBD was hanging out front and foot traffic was brisk. The store is located near the Maryville Target and next door to Five Below.

Then COVID-19 changed everything. Stores were closing as stay-at-home orders and social distancing became the norm. Debra said just like that, the parking lot was empty.

So the retail outlet did what a lot of others did: It readjusted to live in a pandemic. Debra said the only way to survive was to go curbside, so they did.

Walk up to the premises and on the storefront is the menu for customers to read without having to go inside. An employee meets you there to take your order. It then is delivered there on the sidewalk.

The menu includes fresh juice choices, along with protein shots, smoothies and gelatos. The Twisted Tennessee Smoothie contains orange, pineapple, mango, papaya, honey and coconut milk. Gelato comes in several flavors to include white chocolate, salted caramel, rockin’ road and chocolate with a variety of toppings like marshmallows and cookie wedges.

If a juice drink is more your choice, Twisted Sister offers a Green Drink featuring kale, spinach, cucumber, green apple, pineapple, papaya and pear.

The Melonade offers up watermelon, strawberries, lime and mint leaves. Power shots have names like The Pain Shot, containing watermelon, pineapple, turmeric and ginger, which is supposed to be anti-inflammatory and help those with arthritis.

In addition, there is additional space where the Danas sell clothing made of hemp and other eco-friendly materials.

But, Debra said it was her desire to make the CBD portion of the business her main focus.

She said she has family members who have been helped by CBD.

She stocks a variety of CBD products to include gummies, creams, oils. She even has products for pets.

Later on when social distancing orders have been lifted and foot traffic picks up, the Danas said they have plans to extend their line of CBD products to include things like cookies, chocolate and coffee.

Even pork rinds are on the list of offerings, Debra said.

Because of the misfortune of opening in these tough times, the owners of Twisted Sister have had to lay off some of their employees and rely on family members. It could be worse, they know. Debra said the community has wrapped its hearts and hands around them as they struggle through the pandemic.

Social media, these two said, are their saving graces right now. Happy customers are posting on Facebook and other outlets to get the word out about the new store. Debra said they had an amazing day last week, all due to this outpouring of support.

“We are not used to that,” she said. “We are from Houston. Nobody knows each other or talks to each other.

“We are so grateful to be in a place where everyone knows everyone and they do everything they can to help a stranger. It is so heart-warming and comforting.

“It makes me want to cry.”

The family has done a lot of work to make this an inviting place for all.

Debra said her staff is approachable with customers who want to ask questions regarding CBD.

She said older customers and those new to CBD appreciate that.

“We have put everything we have into this,” Debra said.

“This is our first retail storefront. We had no intention of doing curbside. We are just having to adapt and wait for this to be over.”

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Melanie joined The Daily Times in the early 90s and has served as the Life section editor since 1993. A William Blount and UT alum, Melanie is generally the early arriver who turns on the lights in the newsroom.

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