Article by Jake Romphf, Brantford Expositor
After renovating its downtown location, a Wallaceburg company is waiting to make history and become the community’s first legal cannabis dispensary.
When Haight-Ashbury opens its doors on the downtown corner of the James Street and Nelson Street, it could be Wallaceburg’s first cannabis retail store, as it’s one of two currently seeking authorization.
Co-owner Aaron Reimneitz said they were shooting for a Nov. 1 opening, but after some “hiccups” they hope to open in January or February. He wanted to have a wheelchair ramp installed, but said that was “axed” by the municipality until at least the new year.
Reimneitz said they’re currently in the queue as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario continues to up its Retail Store Authorizations (RSAs). In September, the AGCO announced RSAs would rise from 20 to 40 each month. Earlier this month, the Ontario government directed the commission to raise that number again, to 20 RSAs per week.
“Basically, we’re all set to go, we have everything ready, it’s just a matter of when we can open through the AGCO and OCS (Ontario Cannabis Store),” Reimneitz said
Getting everything ready involved remodeling the store inside and out. The building’s exterior was painted and, inside it has a new floor, ceiling, custom display cabinets and a mandatory interior wall that blocks people from being able to see the product from outside the store.
One day on a trip from Chatham to Sarnia, Reimneitz noticed Wallaceburg didn’t have its own retail store. He said he hopes Haight-Ashbury to fill the demand gap so people don’t have to drive to Sarnia or Chatham to buy the product.
The name Haight-Ashbury was inspired by the famous intersection in San Francisco where the “hippy culture” was born in the mid-1960s and which helped produce singers including The Doors, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead, Reimneitz said.
“They all lived in that area at one point in their lives, it’s where the Summer of Love came from,” he said.
He said he compares many other legal dispensaries to Apple stores, in that they can feel cold and corporate, so he wants the store to have a “nice fresh atmosphere” and a “natural feel.”
“We want to make people feel at home,” Reimneitz said.
Calling them the “fastest growing market,” Haight-Ashbury is aiming to attract people 55 and older. Reimneitz said that age group is using weed and CBD products more and more for health purposes, along with just general use. He’s already had many people reach out to him who are specifically interested in CBD.
Reimneitz said people have sent the store messages saying they’re excited about trying the different products and that the products are coming from a safe and certified source.
“Every time I’m working here, people are coming in saying ‘Oh I’m so happy you’re coming here, we’ve been waiting on this,’” he said.