Article by Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer
A new line of (legal) retailing has finally touched down in Norfolk County.
Nearly after three years after the Trudeau government legalized cannabis consumption for recreational purposes, the first retail outlet catering to this market has opened on the Queensway West in Simcoe.
The Simcoe Joint Cannabis Shop is the second store opened by owner Ellie Plata, owner of the Ancaster Joint Cannabis Shop near Hamilton. Hoping that Norfolk residents are ready to “Turn over a new leaf,” the Simcoe shop celebrated its first day and first sales locally on Groundhog Day.
“So far, we’ve had a lot of happy customers,” says Jessica Plata, chief procurement officer and daughter of the owner. “Now, local residents no longer have to drive to Brantford.”
Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Simcoe Joint Cannabis is currently serving the public through curbside pickup. When business finally ramps up to its full potential, the store will employ nine people. It will be open seven days a week, statutory holidays excepted.
“We’re a small, independently-run family-owned and operated business,” Plata said. “This gives us the advantage over large corporate chains because we can adapt to local preferences.”
Product lines include smokeable flower tops, edible gummies, cannabis-infused beverages, pre-rolled joints and vapes. Staff is educated in all product lines and is available to answer questions and make recommendations.
Plata said her family settled on the location in the strip mall across from the Pioneer gas bar because it has a high profile with the road-travelling public. She likes how the store is nestled between a pizza shop and a burrito bar, which offers customers one-stop shopping.
Simcoe Joint Cannabis knows it takes time to maximize a market wherever legal retailing goes. Pot aficionados point out that prices at the retail level are not competitive with traditional street product and not always up to snuff when it comes to quality.
Sales representative Hannah Clement doesn’t doubt there is some fine product available in the unlicensed market.
But she pointed out that unregulated cannabis is riskier than it used to be because some is adulterated with cheap chemicals. Police and public health officials have warned in recent years that this is a serious, potential problem with products purchased from unregulated sources.