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Storytelling: Tyler Dempsey, Owner of Wholistic Connections

"My goal is to help increase people's quality of life, even by half a percentage. That's the theme for my life. I love to make people smile.

After college, I had an identity crisis and ended up moving to Nashville with my sister. I was a wrestler in school and it was a big part of my life that was now missing. A friend suggested I try jiu jitsu and boxing. I'd never been in a fight my life and I didn't want to be in one but I thought the safest way to try was inside the ring. I joined a boxing club in Nashville where I was both a member and a personal trainer. My focus was less on the fighters, and more on the people who wanted everyday fitness. I loved seeing their progress. I had clients who were not able to get out of the chair without putting their hands on their knees and some who had to use a walker. It was a big sense of accomplishment to see them stand up with ease and walk around without the aid of the walker. The enrichment of quality of life for others has been an overwhelming drive in my career.

One day, this guy, Steven, came into the gym looking for a personal trainer. He looked like a cool guy so I decided to help him out. After about four months and you could see the progression. He went from avoiding mirrors to checking himself out, walking a little bit taller and with more confidence. When he told me he had to leave for a month, I offered to put together his meal plans, workouts, and to check in remotely while he was gone. He asked me to go with him. He told me he was a music manager and was going on tour with one of his acts. I was like, ‘I'm in. Let's do it.’ About a week into it, I ran into the main act. I was on tour with Jewel.

I was there to train her manager, but I started working out with her. She posted me on her social media, which opened the floodgate. A lot of up-and-coming artists would reach out to me to train them as well. Steven really helped me out. He worked with big names in the music industry and had his own management company. I started out as a personal trainer for about five different artists and slowly got into drum tech-ing, guitar tech-ing, production assistant, etc. About this time last year, I was Jewel’s tour manager, which was a whirlwind of an adventure.

Opening day for Wholistic Connections was June 14, 2021. I signed my lease on April 20, which is a good omen for my industry.

With the Hemp Act of 2018 they were very specific saying that you cannot have Delta Nine THC through the marijuana plant. Delta Eight came out first. It is a natural molecule but at very minute levels. Then, stoners got smart and discovered there are ways to produce THC by adding pressure or heat. The pressure changes a chemical bond on the left side of the molecule, pops it off and creates a chemical bond on the right side where the molecule connects to the receptor, making a THC molecule. The only real difference between a CBD molecule and a THC molecule is that any CBD molecule binds to our C1 receptors whereas THC binds and activates to that receptor. The activation property of the THC molecule is how we get the psychoactive effects. With more research and development, there are now more ways to legally harvest THC naturally from the plant. Simplistically, we harvest the plant a little bit earlier than normal. At this stage, it's technically CBD due to the plant having an acid complex on the end of the THC molecule. This process makes the plant’s bud fully legal. I put my savings into the store and I’m VERY into following the rules. I talk to the police chief once a year. I think I've annoyed him at this point, but I want to ensure we’re still compliant.

It’s weird, especially in Wisconsin, but there's a huge percentage of people who don't drink. We started offering a non-alcoholic option at the store called Nowadays. We have a couple options but I like that one a lot because, if you don't want someone knowing you’re drinking THC, it looks just like a tequila bottle. It's incognito and a great alternative to drinking. There aren’t really any negative effects to it. It contains very little sugar and your body doesn't react the same way to THC that it does to alcohol. No hangover feelings whatsoever. In the store, we offer photo-cannabinoids or plant cannabinoids which is a scientific way of saying CBD or THC.

Whether it be sleep, pain, focus, anxiety relief, or other health and wellness items, we have them. Our pet product is a Lake Geneva local called Paws & Claws. They produce it here and they have a fantastic product. I believe in supporting small businesses. If you spend your money in a small business, 90% of that money is circumvented back into it. It's important to support local, to keep the “Mom and Pop” shops open, and to keep your money in our community.

I take the lead from the Nashville music industry. In country music, they collaborate rather than compete. One person listens to the songwriter and if it sounds more like another company, they’ll send them the song. As I get to know people in Lake Geneva, I feel like we can collaborate more in this way. When someone comes into my store, I talk to them, I try to get to know them. Even if they're not buying anything, I’ll suggest a few other spots that I think they would like. That adds value to our town. What people don't understand is if you say ‘this place sucks’, the listener doesn’t hear ‘this place sucks’, they hear ‘Lake Geneva sucks’. The more we positively support one another, the more successful we’ll all be.

At Wholistic Connections, we sell the same products that you can get in Illinois, Colorado, California. That side of the store keeps the lights on. What I love is the other side of things, the non-intoxicating products that help with sleep, pain, focus, all the health benefits without the high. That part feeds my soul.” - Tyler Dempsey, Wholistic Connections, 225 Broad St., Lake Downtown Lake Geneva

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