As the cannabis retail landscape continues to grow, a few noteworthy in-store trends around connecting with community and customers are emerging across Ontario.
Whether it’s providing an approachably low-fi experience, focusing on one-on-one customer interactions or giving back to the local community, these growing in-store trends are great examples of how Authorized Retailers are finding ways to connect with customers. This month, we spoke to five Authorized Retailers who are exemplifying these retail trends and making them their own.
The Lo-Fi Experience
While many Authorized Retailers are focused on installing the latest high-tech equipment to help run their stores, others understand that tech may not be the answer to everything. A homey approach works wonders with customers looking for a laid-back experience.
K’s Pot Shop
Serving Toronto’s historic Leslieville and Riverdale neighbourhoods, K’s Pot Shop uses folksy interior design to make customers feel like they’re hanging out in a friend’s cozy living room. The Queen Street East space mixes cannabis information with kitschy memorabilia to deliver a delightfully low-fi experience. For shop owners Sean and Elisa Keay, it was important that K’s Pot Shop felt fun. “We don’t use digital displays and big product cases. Instead, we have a cannabis portrait wall with rows of strain cards we’ve created. We have the typical menu board screens behind the service counter, but the third screen always has a VHS tape playing something fun,” says Elisa.
When it comes to educational content, stores that go beyond the basics encourage new and curious customers to explore the ever-expanding cannabis landscape.
Tokyo Smoke’s in-house Education Specialists are always ready to help customers become more cannabis savvy and discover the recreational cannabis products that suit them best. With cannabis products grouped according to Tokyo Smoke’s signature Intent System (Go, Rise, Equalize, Ease and Pause), Tokyo Smoke has also created touch points within its stores to provide guests with a distinctive in-store experience. “One of the ways we did this was by installing a unique edibles education [display], which showcases our ingestible format options and how to use them,” says Sherri Rymal, Store Manager.
The We Store
The Chatham-Kent We Store goes beyond the standard approach to education with a one-on-one personalized experience that really hits home with customers. While educational strain cards, magazines and product displays help customers navigate the store, it’s the friendly, trained budtenders who make all the difference. Since there is no one-size-fits-all way of helping cannabis consumers, the We Store team draws from each customer’s order history (if available) or asks personal questions to suggest cannabis products that may be just right for them.
Doing Good While Doing Business
It’s clear — and important — to customers when giving back is built into the DNA of a business. Through the right charitable initiatives, Authorized Retailers can help others while also securing a place in the local community and the hearts of their customers.
With a shop operating in Stratford and another due to open in Woodstock in spring 2021, Crossroads Cannabis is committed to two things: helping customers discover the world of recreational cannabis and supporting our Canadian troops. That’s why owner and long-time entrepreneur and fundraiser Bob Rowe launched “Red Fridays” and pledged to donate $1 from every sale made on Fridays to the Support Our Troops fund. Through this initiative, Crossroads Cannabis was able to raise over $10,000 in 2020.
High Street Cannabis
Keeping it local and giving back to the community rank high on owner Michael Motala’s priority list for this family-owned and operated store on Queen Street West in Toronto. That’s why this shop is piloting fundraising projects that simultaneously give back to the local arts scene and homeless community, both heavily impacted by COVID-19. High Street has worked closely with local artists to produce benefit events for Covenant House, and they collect spare change in-store for a nearby homeless shelter. High Street is also doing more to support local artists. “We are donating free wall space within our store and through our forthcoming virtual gallery to provide artists with exposure to the public,” says Motala.