The Cannabis Stop Inc. is a Canadian cannabis retailer located in Shelburne, ON who opened its doors in early 2021 while the unfortunately pandemic lock-down was in full swing. But that didn’t stop them! Learn more about their story, how they connected with their local community, the best practices they rely on to provide the best retail experience and what they do for fun in their quiet but beautiful growing Ontario commuter town!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your retail store and how your journey started?
A: The Cannabis Stop opened its doors in February 2021, with the vision of servicing the small-town, rural community with a one-stop-shop cannabis store (hence the name!). As the first legal cannabis store to open in the neighbourhood, with the closest shop previously 45-60 minutes away, we wanted to create an atmosphere with small-town vibes, providing a personable, friendly experience built on client relationships and trust. To fill the void and make legal cannabis readily available we’ve now expanded to Arthur, ON and will soon be opening sister stores in Grand Valley, ON and Markdale, ON. Staying small and serving local Ontario communities is what we’re all about!
Q: Does Cannabis Stop Inc. have any special meaning behind it? How did you come up with the store name?
A: We wanted to make it as clear as possible that this is your one-stop-shop for all your cannabis needs, whether it be THC or CBD products, beverages, edibles – you name it! The range of products being produced since Ontario opened its doors to Cannabis retail is astounding. There are many options to choose from, whether you’re looking for recreational use or not.
Q: Can you tell me a little more about the Shelburne community? Why did you decide to open your first cannabis store here?
A: Shelburne is a small (but quickly growing!) rural community about an hour north of Toronto. Historically, Shelburne has been a farming community, however over the past few years the area has expanded its residential side and so the Town has been gifted the opportunity to grow its local businesses substantially.
With many of Shelburne’s new residents being commuters, we thought it important to provide a much-needed service to the flourishing community. Opening our storefront here meant residents don’t have to drive more than 20 minutes away to purchase cannabis products. We are proud to be a part of the local community and love making connections with local shops, customers, and visitors alike!
Q: What is your in-store experience like? How would you describe the atmosphere?
A: From the get-go, we wanted to provide a unique experience at the Cannabis Stop for our customers. Our stores are clean, organized, and elegant with thoughtful millwork housing displays throughout the store for customers to browse. We also wanted to ensure each customer felt comfortable from the moment they entered the store and in doing so, we carefully considered every aspect of the buying process to cater to individual shopping behaviours.
Whether interested in chatting with a knowledgeable budtender or ordering straight off an iPad for a quick click and collect experience, we can provide that experience. We recognize shopping for cannabis is a personal purchase, so we are here to support each customer the way they are interested in being served. Our budtenders are very knowledgeable and contribute to a warm, inviting atmosphere.
Q: What tools do you use to create the best in-store experience and customer service?
A: The right POS software is key in creating a smooth customer (and backend) retail experience! When we first opened our store in Shelburne, we unknowingly set ourselves up on a POS system that we quickly found out was not right for the cannabis space. With the cannabis industry being so new we needed to find a platform that understood the regulations, product, promotion opportunities and customer journey.
Shortly after we made the move to Greenline, a compliant, Canadian cannabis retail infrastructure providing everything from in-store point-of-sale to online e-commerce, and have not looked back. Paired with Dutchie, these partners have helped us tremendously in increasing our customer experience and sales. With the cannabis industry constantly changing it’s helpful having the right partners who are on top of industry best practices.
Other than an amazing POS system, we have digital boards hosting our menus, iPads for click and collect and in-store displays for customers to browse.
Q: How do you ensure your budtenders have the best access to cannabis education and product knowledge to inform customers?
A: Budtender education is extremely important to us! We want our staff to feel confident in selling the products we carry in-store, but also ensure they are selling different products correctly and within the Canadian cannabis regulations. To properly train our staff we work with a third-party education company that supports cannabis 101 as well as new products and SKUs that come to market in Ontario.
By the time our budtenders hit the floor, they have had 7-10 days of training and are familiar with the OCS platform as well as the Cannabis Stop products. Furthermore, to ensure our team is up to date on new products coming to market, we regularly participate in OCS training sessions and do our best to schedule individual PK sessions with brands interested in educating our store on their products. Hexo, Houseplant and Tweed are just a few brands that have made it easy to connect, learn and bring their products into our store!
Q: How do you schedule education sessions with new Licensed Cannabis Producers and brands? Is it a challenge? How do you go about getting assets?
A: It’s very hit or miss. I find a lot of Licensed Producers and brands are overwhelmed because there are so many stores launching across Ontario and Canada. Everyone wants to connect with them! Based on what is released and why we are bringing in a new product, we try to keep our SKUs inline – simple for budtenders and customers. If it’s a new brand or product we are interested in carrying we do our best to reach out and try to set something up, and if a conversation isn’t possible, we always try to get brand assets.
With that said, unfortunately, getting the proper assets from these brands can be a struggle. If we do get in touch with the correct rep and get access to assets, we constantly run into the issue of links being expired, or assets out of date – for that reason, One-2-One has become our go-to for obtaining brand assets. One-2-One has made it extremely easy for us to get access to logos, brand assets, and displays as opposed to chasing reps down. We would love to see more Licensed Producers and Brands on One-2-One to make our life easier in connecting with them and bringing their products in-store.
Q: Who uses One-2-One for your store?
A: Our store managers and budtenders are constantly checking in to see what’s new on One-2-One to support product sales in the store. We’ve also found it extremely helpful for our Social Media Manager to pull consistent, on-brand digital marketing assets within the regulations to share on our channels. We previously found it challenging to produce our own content within community guidelines, but the digital assets on One-2-One make it much easier for us to navigate, not to mention saving us time!
Q: What are some of your favourite things to do in the Shelburne community? What are your favourite places to visit?
A: Shelburne is so scenic! Between Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, the Boyne Valley and the Bruce trail, there are multitudes of outdoor activities to do around here.
Q: What products are your favourite? Do you have any new products that you are most excited about coming to market in Ontario?
A: That’s a tough one as there are so many great products available in a variety of formats! However, to name a few, our team is excited to try Cookies by Gage, and a new brand coming to market called Papa’s Herb. Point Break by Qwest is also always a consistent, popular strain in our store! I also want to give a shout-out to Spinach as they always do a great job keeping us informed of new products, making it easy for us to plan what we want to bring into the store – thanks Spinach!
Q: What future aspirations or hopes do you have for the cannabis space/community?
A: It would be nice to see the stigma around this industry move towards a more normalized and accepted outlook, the same way the LCBO/beer stores are looked at by society. With the Industry being “newer” it’s exciting to think about what product may be introduced into the market next.