The province’s fourth Tokyo Smoke cannabis retail outlet will be the second to serve Brandon customers after opening its doors to the public on Wednesday morning.
Located at 628 18th Street, the company was careful in its process to find a location that would fit both the company’s mission to provide a stigma-free shopping experience and offer convenience to its prospective clients. This is one of the main reasons why it is beginning operations more than a month after cannabis became legal for recreational consumption across the country.
“We were just trying to find the right location for us with the retail strategy we have and we’re super excited to be opening in Brandon now,” said Molly Karp, Tokyo Smoke’s community manager in Manitoba.
“There is a certain aesthetic we were going for to fit the way we work at the retail level. Everyone we worked with on the ground in Brandon has been so great. The contractors, the builders, everyone has been so supportive of the process. It’s been a very smooth transition to get the store open in Brandon.”
The local outlet is the company’s fourth to open in Manitoba. Three stores are operating in Winnipeg, employing about 30 people per location. Karp said about the same number will work at the Brandon establishment.
“Obviously Brandon is a smaller market with a smaller population base to serve, but I think demand will be fairly substantial, so we’re looking at staffing the store accordingly,” Karp said. “It will be similar to the Winnipeg stores.”
The company, which was established by Alan and Lorne Gertner in 2015 as a medical marijuana distributor, has a long-range plan of opening 10 locations throughout the province. Although they are open to developing another outlet in Brandon, there are no plans to do so at this time, said Karp.
The Gertners opened the first Tokyo Smoke in Toronto three years ago. The company expanded to Calgary last year and is now one of only four retail license holders in Manitoba.
Tweed, the city’s first cannabis retailer, opened Nov. 8 on Victoria Avenue. Delta 9, another licensed retailer, also has plans to operate a location in Brandon, but currently only has one outlet operating in Winnipeg.
Karp said Tokyo Smoke sets itself apart by using an “education-first” mentality to ensure their clients know what they are purchasing and how the product will affect them.
“We have a ‘Community Connections’ program which are in-store, higher learning events in Winnipeg and we plan to do some in Brandon as well,” she said. “The program takes customers through ‘Cannabis 101’ and answers any questions they may have to ensure they are consuming with the right knowledge under their belt.”