The owners of the 3-week-old Toronto cannabis retailer Shivaa’s Rose are urging cannabis shoppers to support independently owned stores over big box weed. The appeal came via “A Letter to Canadians” on Shivaa’s Rose blog. Meanwhile, in Alberta – ‘Cannabis Freddie Mercury’ Ryan Roch of Lake City Cannabis is trying to help independent retailers fight back against big box weed too.
Fighting for survival
The competition among retailers – especially in Ontario – is getting fierce.
In Ontario, the province is authorizing 120 new store licences each month. With NIMBYs fighting store openings in some places, the pandemic bogging down the shopping experience and the forced competition with the Provincial online seller/wholesaler – stores have to differentiate themselves to survive. For Junior Sritharan, co-owner of the Shivaa’s Rose shop, part of that is reminding customers that they’re a mom-and-pop shop.
“Cannabis is not impervious to corporate capitalism forces, and we are seeing the emergence of larger entities attempting to take a stranglehold on the industry,” he said in the post.
Do customers care?
When it comes to cannabis retail, consumers are still in discovery mode – prolonged by COVID lockdowns. Price matters. High-THC matters too. But it’s still unclear how much things like branding and ownership structure are valued by average buyers. Time will tell.
Is there still time?
With bigger chains like the No Frills-like Value Buds moving in and promising “cheap weed”, the playing field will only become more competitive. It may lead to even more consolidation. It might lead to stores closing. But for Sritharan and Shivaa’s Rose, that’s not part of the plan. “We’re in it for the long haul,” he says.
So is Ryan Roch: