This month, we spoke with three licensed cannabis retailers who are finding unique and creative ways to contribute to the neighbourhoods they serve.
Fire & Flower Cannabis Co., Ottawa, Ontario
This Ottawa location of Fire & Flower was the first authorized cannabis store to open its doors in the historic ByWard Market and is committed to enriching this iconic neighbourhood by collaborating with community-based agencies and partners. Built on principles of inclusion and social responsibility, this shop sees itself as one part of a community that is stronger together.
The staff have a number of community-focused projects on the go — they led a ByWard Market street cleanup last fall and hosted a holiday fundraising drive benefiting nearby homeless shelters. Committed to environmental sustainability, the Fire & Flower team invites their customers and community members to drop off empty recyclable cannabis containers in-store.
While COVID-19 has driven Fire & Flower to rethink and adjust, they continue to safely balance operations and volunteerism, and remain committed to supporting their local community. “It has been extremely rewarding, seeing how our impact affects the spirit of those staying in our area,” says general manager, Christina Roy.
Calyx + Trichomes, Kingston, Ontario
This Kingston-based family-run store actively supports those who were part of the cannabis community prior to legalization. Before opening, the owners mounted a social media campaign to hire staff with roots in the unregulated cannabis market and guaranteed interviews to potential job applicants with criminal records for cannabis-related convictions and those with a history of cannabis activism. “From our perspective, we’re paying a debt owed to the people who fought for legalization,” says CEO and co-founder Jennawae McLean.
This hiring strategy has paid off: when their doors opened in July 2020, every member of McLean’s team possessed valuable long-term experience and passion for the industry.
The Oz Store, Orleans, Ontario
The Oz Store is giving back to artists and creatives working in its own backyard. Not long after opening its doors, the Oz Store launched a contest designed to promote Orleans’s growing indie arts scene. The store received numerous inspiring pieces — many of them now displayed on the shop’s walls. “Our plan is to have a rotational space that is dedicated to showcasing visual art from different local artists,” says manager (and indie rapper) Kolby “Made Wade” Seifried. Now customers who stop by to pick up locally sourced cannabis-based products can also admire the works of local creatives.
Inspired by the success of their initiatives to date, the Oz Shop staff and Seifried are working to expand their charitable initiatives. “We’re in the process now of identifying some local cannabis-focused charities we can fundraise for in-store, and we’re also creating merch and T-shirts in collaboration with a local artist/entrepreneur who is just around the corner from the shop,” says Seifried.