Competition within Brandon’s cannabis dispensary market will tighten a little more when the city’s third store opens in early spring.
Garden Variety, in partnership with Colorado-based Native Roots, has determined that a 3471-square-foot location at 1350 18th Street will be home to one of four cannabis stores the company plans to open in Manitoba. No specific opening date has been set, but Garden Variety communications manager Kim Casey says they hope to have the location operating near the end of the first quarter of 2019.
“We’re not willing to open the store until we are truly satisfied that our staff is trained and we have the store looking up to standard,” she said. “We know what we want to achieve with our stores and we know we have set the bar high for ourselves.”
This “high bar” was established by a decade of experience operating dispensaries in the United States under the Native Roots banner. The company, one of several partners involved with Garden Variety, began distributing cannabis for medical purposes in 2009 then adjusted to the recreational market when the drug became legal in Colorado in 2014.
Casey said the company is not concerned about either entering the market late or being one of several dispensaries that could ultimately open in a city of only 50,000 residents. Brandon will have the third of four Garden Variety outlets planned for Manitoba, with two opening shortly in Winnipeg and a fourth operating in Thompson. The company plans to have all locations opened this year.
Brandon’s Garden Variety store will come on line a minimum of four months after the city’s two other dispensaries began operation. Tweed on Victoria Avenue opened its doors in early November, about one month after cannabis became legal to consume recreationally in Canada on Oct. 17. Tokyo Smoke, which is also located on 18th Street, began sales Nov. 21.
Casey said Garden Variety’s association with Native Roots will set them apart from their competition by taking what has worked in Colorado, improving it and bringing it to Canada. They are paying particular attention to the store’s inviting environment with lots of room for displays and customer comfort alongside a pleasant, knowledgeable sales staff.
“We’re utilizing all the things we have learned in Colorado with Native Roots and are taking it up a notch,” she said.
“Also what we have found very important and are working diligently at is when working with Canadian guests, we realize what they’re looking forward to is strain variety. We’re certainly going to live up to the ‘variety’ portion of our name.”
Casey was unsure how many people the Brandon Garden Variety will employ. The company is basing its staff numbers on local traffic into the store along with finding the most effective hours of operation.
“The store is going to be something that’s truly exceptional, and there’s been a tremendous amount of thought behind the design,” Casey said. “It’s going to be unique and beautiful.”
Although Garden Variety has long-term plans to operate dispensaries across the country, the company is currently focused on establishing its presence in Manitoba.
Besides Native Roots – which has 20 retail outlets and employs more than 600 across the state of Colorado – Garden Variety is also working with Ontario-based companies Avana Canada and MediPharm Labs; the Fisher River Cree Nation in Manitoba; and the Chippewas of the Thames in Ontario.