3 things to know about designing and building retail

6 mins read

Our recent Cannabis Retail event showed the importance strategy plays in underpinning successful retail.

by Leandra Reid and Krista Raymer, Vetrina Group

Last week, along with Business of Cannabis, we kicked off the first Business of Cannabis Retail Series event. The Retail Series will be a monthly event where current and would-be retailers can connect with each other and with an array of products, services and experts working in the cannabis retail sector. You can still watch a full recap of the programming.

The inaugural event focused on designing and building cannabis retail interiors – often a daunting task for any retailer. Decisions made during the design and build phases of a cannabis retail store can have long-lasting impacts – both positive and negative.

Our program featured insight from Elisa Keay, of K’s Pot Shop, as well as three individuals working closely with retailers on their store design and build outs: Nuna Paul of the general contracting and construction management firm EN2, Neal Claassen of SevenPoint Interiors and Imraan Khan of Detonate.

From our lens, there were three key take-aways from the program – all stemming from having a building a strategy during the plan phase that will guide light on future decisions –  making and keeping you focused. 

Have your customer in mind

What will you uniquely bring to customers? Identify this will support your defense against competition and communicate the retail brand.

Every city, every neighbourhood and every block is different. By think about who you believe will be entering and shopping in your store, you can design and build something for that customer segment. People like to see their qualities reflected back at them. Having a design that reflects their needs and aesthetics that feel comfortable for your core customer, you will best be able to attract and retain that customer and grow that customer’s spend.

Example: K’s Pot Shop

Elisa and her husband have built a store that reflects the Leslieville community feel all over the four walls. Filled with trinkets from the past, and information for the now, K’s Pot Shop has a unique community feel that is brought to life by the team that works there. Friendly and helpful first, they have leveraged and retained a local customer. Small but mighty, they have been able to reposition inventory assortment and layout quickly to respond to the customer and changing needs of their business.

When employees and management understand who they are servicing and the strategy that goes along with it, every decision is easier to make. 

  • Allocate scarce resources.
  • Prioritize competing initiatives.
  • Rein in overspending 

Be thoughtful about your space

Just like every community is different, so too is every space. No shop is a perfect blank box. Using the uniqueness of individual spaces are critical, as are understanding what the operational limitations are. Key considerations to have in mind;

  • Where will product be delivered?
  • Where will it be unpacked?
  • Do you have a space to have a sensitive private conversation with team members?
  • How will inventory be located for clients?
  • How do you plan to display product?
  • How much display space do you really need?

Be flexible

And even if you have your core customer’s desires and needs covered and have taken into account the uniqueness of your space – as a retailer, you need to be flexible. If COVID has taught us all anything, it is to expect the unexpected. In cannabis retail, that may be more true than other sectors as the regulatory winds have shifted monthly. So too for what consumers expect from their store designs. Creating an interior that can grow and shift with you – and take into account the real-life shopping habits of consumers – is critical.

Opening a cannabis retail store requires building a solid foundation. No store will be able to lead the market in every area. When competition changes the landscape, no retailer can succeed by being ‘everything’ to ‘everyone’. Stay true to the business strategy, targeting a market and building advantages that are difficult for competitors to replicate. 

We hope you will join us on March 3 at noon for the second Business of Cannabis Retail Series focused on the foundational technologies cannabis retailers need to think about prior to opening – including the point-of-sale, e-commerce solutions and payment solutions. Register today.


About Vetrina Group

Vetrina Group is a cannabis retail consulting firm with over 30 years retail experience utilizing consumer behaviour and data to accelerate profitability and optimize retailer brand value. Connect with Vetrina Group.

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