Salmon Arm cannabis retailers say they are doing well after legalization, though pricing and advertising restrictions have posed some challenges.
While the city currently has more cannabis retailers than any other in the Interior, local retailers have developed a sense of camaraderie. They report the community has been supportive and each business has started to build their own clientele base.
Operators of the Greenery Cannabis Boutique, located just off the Trans-Canada Highway, say their first five months of business were good and that they’ve just opened another location in Penticton.
“We’re doing very well, we’ve been received very well by the public, we’ve been received very well by all the customers,” said boutique manager Jillian Bileske.
Despite a slow start in the first few months, Bileske says she is honing in on what prices customers are willing to consider.
“At first we brought in a lot of stuff that was more premium, but we’re trying now to scale back and get stuff that’s a little bit more consumer friendly,” she said.
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Downtown Cannabis, located near the downtown Salmon Arm Askew’s location, says people don’t mind their prices – the exception being older men.
“All these guys that used to grow back in the day, they don’t want to pay the retail prices,” said Dale Wertz, a budtender at Downtown Cannabis.
The theme of togetherness within the local cannabis retailers is strong with the downtown location as well.
“We’re really just about supporting each other with the product. We’re all just basically happy to be here,” Wertz said.
Although a decline in sales has not been noticed with the winter months, there are concerns over advertising.
“Being unable to advertise or even promote our business is really hindering everything,” said Wertz, adding he is looking forward to edibles and concentrates coming out closer to Christmas as he has received a lot of requests from customers.
Salmon Arm Cannabis (SAC), near the corner of Shuswap Street and Hudson Avenue NW, opened the second week of September and has established a routine clientele. That process has been a slow one though due to the restrictions reports SAC employees.
“Here we are, small business people in retail, and the government is only focusing on stores we compete with because they control the supply the demand,” said SAC employee Lydia Janik.
Advertising restrictions laid out in the Cannabis Act prohibit the promotion of cannabis or cannabis accessories or any service related to cannabis by communicating information about its price or distribution.
Ownership of SAC could be changing hands within the next year as well. SAC owner Sunny Dhaliwal says the deal is “still pretty preliminary.”
“We just tried it, we thought it would be something kind of new and different but, to be honest our strength is furniture,” said Dhaliwal who owns 23 furniture stores, including Salmon Arm’s City Furniture, and wishes to expand to more locations.