Article by Jim Moodie, Sudbury Star
A new store with a sunny outlook has opened amid dark times on The Kingsway.
Happy Life, a marijuana retailer with a smiley-face logo, prides itself on being locally owned and able to offer customers a good deal on its products.
Like existing pot stores Highlife and Canna Cabana, the new business is required to source its products through the Ontario Cannabis Store, so offerings here will be similar to those of its competitors.
“What we have done to set ourselves apart is to offer a lower price to the consumer,” said manager Jessica Stoodley. “So across the board, we have attempted to give them the best price we possibly can on all our products, and accessories, as well.”
The store is located just east of Bancroft Drive on The Kingsway and owned by John Law, who also owns the nearby Lot 88 Steakhouse and Bar.
It cut its ribbon in mid-February, just before the province-wide lockdown was lifted, and has been welcoming customers ever since.
“We opened as soon as Ontario allowed us to have people in,” said Stoodley. “Before that, we had a weekend of online orders with curbside pickup, just as a little preamble before we could actually receive the public.”
Business has been steady and improving, she said, as word gets around.
“It’s starting to grow every day,” said the manager. “We’re getting customers who are so impressed with the price and they’re telling their friends, so we have noticed it’s been picking up.”
Happy Life employs 13 people — in both full- and part-time positions — and has parking for about a half-dozen vehicles out front, with more space available at the adjacent Kings Buffet lot, which is accessed by a staircase.
The store is not part of a chain, although there is a plan to open a second location in Chelmsford, beside the Overtime Sports Bar and Grill.
“It would be on a smaller scale, but still offering some popular products and saving people the trip into the big city,” said Stoodley.
The manager is originally from Sudbury, but moved to Toronto as a young adult and spent two decades working as a flight attendant.
That changed when so many planes were grounded by the pandemic.
“I was furloughed for the last year and decided it’s perhaps not the most secure industry to be in,” she said.
Before moving back to the Nickel City and taking on the role of Happy Life manager, Stoodley worked as a “bucker” — stripping buds from marijuana plants — at a farm near her home in Brantford.
While this was just a temporary, labour job to stay busy during her layoff from the airline business, she was impressed by how professional the operation was.
“It was an interesting introduction to the industry — meeting the people who are passionate about it and seeing the process and the amount of science that goes into this,” she said. “It’s a growing industry that’s going really fun places, and it’s really neat to be part of it.”
Stoodley is also happy to be back in Sudbury, where there are more ways to enjoy the outdoors with her family than was the case when they lived farther south.