Article by Doug Schmidt, Windsor Star via Growth Op
A year and half after Ottawa first legalized pot, and more than half a year after a London businessman won the right to open Windsor’s first retail cannabis store, the city is about to finally find out what all the high-falutin’ fuss is about.
“We are excited — we’re the first ones and we’re planning something pretty special,” said David Craig, chief design officer with J. Supply Holdings, which is readying Windsor’s first legal pot shop — J. Supply Co. — at 545 Ouellette Ave.
Londoner Kirk Anastasiadis won one of the few then-available Ontario cannabis retail licences in a provincial lottery last summer, and, perhaps in part because London already had three such licensees and there was nothing west of there, he targeted the Windsor market. Despite a few premature media announcements over the following months of an imminent opening, however, the windows at his proposed Rose City Cannabis site remained papered over. It didn’t help that Windsor’s planning department expressed its opposition to the province of the downtown location.
Recently, Anastasiadis entered into a consulting agreement with J. Supply, which has been operating a retail pot store in London since last April and which has plans for more stores in the near future. Anastasiadis remains the Windsor store’s owner, but Craig said his Toronto-based company brings in its branding, marketing, know-how and experience in retail, hospitality and commercial space design-build projects.
“We’re going to provide something special,” he said, adding J. Brand Co. will be “premium brand, but approachable brand.”
Subject to a series of pre-inspections by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) that begin next week, Craig said the first joints — which is what the letter J in J. Supply stands for — could be rolling out the store before the end of March.
The experience at J. London so far, said Craig, “has been fantastic.” Open seven days a week, it draws 800 to 1,500 customers a day to its clean, modern facility at 691 Richmond St. with a “very well-educated and knowledgeable staff.” Clients, screened at the entrance to ensure nobody underage gains access, are encouraged to linger, ask questions and become informed, and he said there have been no issues with lineups outside.
The store layout will offer customers “an experience. Its setup, very specifically, is to guide a person through the journey,” said Craig, adding it doesn’t matter whether you’re a cannabis connoisseur or a novice.
“We believe people are eagerly looking forward to this store,” he told the Star. Word of Windsor’s first pot shop drew “an overwhelming response” of over 800 job-seeking applicants, he said, from which about 20 are being picked for initial staffing.
In London, neighbouring retail operations have “absolutely” benefitted from J. London’s presence, said Craig, whose J. Supply has already begun “making relationships” with other Windsor businesses. Part of his company’s strategy, he said, is studying local culture and art: “We will adapt each of our locations to the local community — we will be ingrained in the local community.”
A wide array of legally sourced and regulated pot products will await the customers at 545 Ouellette Ave., everything from cannabis flower, capsules, creams, concentrates and pre-rolled joints to tinctures, oils, topicals and seeds. Edibles include cookies, chocolates and gummies, and initial tea bag offerings will soon be supplemented by other cannabis-infused beverages, said Craig.
The store will include eight iPad stations, which, for those not sure of what they want, will provide a questionnaire to customers to help them narrow down their search and suggest a product.
“The customer can pinpoint what they’re looking for. Do you want to be giggly? Focused? Do you want to sleep?” said Craig. “What about flavour profiles — lemony? Earthy?” The customer might be looking for something either high or low in THC — the main psychoactive compound that makes people feel “high” — or high or low in CBD, another active ingredient which doesn’t cause a high but has been linked to feelings of well-being.