The Cannabis Retail Experience Goes Upscale
“Pick it, pack it, fire it up, come along and take a hit from the bong,” —Cypress Hill, 1993.
After decades of activism, on October 17, 2018, Canada legalized recreational cannabis use. Saskatchewan is one of the Canadian provinces that allow private retail spaces and has made 51 store licenses available through a lottery system (on-site consumption is currently not legal).
Refined spoke with Andrew Gordon, SVP of Strategic Alliances & Community Engagement with Kiaro. The Vancouver-based company recently opened its first cannabis and cannabis accessories store at 212-20th Street West in Saskatoon’s popular Riversdale area.
Why did Kiaro choose Riversdale for its first store?
We really admire how Saskatchewan has done a paced rollout. At Kiaro, we want to have that ongoing conversation with the community. For us, Riversdale has that desirable flavour and flair — like Gastown in Vancouver or Queen Street West in Toronto. With its walkability, compatible businesses and the Farmers’ Market, Riversdale is a great location for Kiaro.
What does Kiaro sell?
We sell cannabis capsules, pre-rolls, tinctures and, of course, the flower. Edibles and extracts will become legal in October 2019. Half of the store is curated cannabis accessories; we focus on style and refinement. Some of the bongs and pipes Kiaro sells could be mistaken for art pieces! We want to exceed customers’ expectations on all levels. Our target market is working professionals and we definitely aren’t going for that convenience store-type layout. At the same time, we need to respect the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) protocols.
What about the issue of the cannabis supply chain?
Obviously, it’s a new thing and there are challenges. The industry needs to learn to crawl before we can walk, and the country’s cannabis supply chain is in its infancy. We appreciate that this is an unprecedented development for our country, and know regulators are working hard to meet these challenges head-on.
To work for Kiaro, does an individual need to be a regular cannabis user?
We find employees tend to self-select. Our cannabis consultants often want to share their own cannabis journeys with other people. At Kiaro, we want our customers to enhance their life enjoyment through cannabis, so having those conversations is valuable.