Article by Scott Nixon, Clinton News Record
Stratford’s first recreational cannabis store opened its doors May 25, and the man behind it is Exeter-area entrepreneur Bob Rowe.
Crossroads Cannabis opened in Stratford’s No Frills plaza at 618 Huron St. and was very well received, owner Rowe recently told the Times-Advance. He said there was a line-up during the morning opening, followed by a steady stream of customers throughout the day. Due to COVID-19 and social distancing, Rowe said the business is allowing five customers in at a time.
“Everybody was really pleased with the layout of the store and glad that there’s now a store in Stratford,” Rowe said, explaining that now that the province has expanded its licensing process for cannabis retailers it has made it possible for such shops to open in smaller cities like Stratford.
Rowe said Crossroads Cannabis is one of the first non-lottery cannabis stores to open in Ontario.
Born and raised in Exeter and now living just outside Hensall, Rowe has been an entrepreneur all his professional life, spending his career in the energy sector in Huron County. While his intention was to retire, a conversation with his son Scott last fall while on a fishing trip inspired him to look into opening a retail cannabis shop.
Rowe said he looked at opening a store in Exeter, but after analyzing the situation he thought his hometown might not be large enough. He then turned to Stratford because it was local, rural, and he was intrigued at the opportunities.
“I’m a rural boy at heart,” he said.
Rowe said he knew very little about the cannabis industry before embarking on the project and admits he went through quite a learning curve. He said he and retail manager Jason Clarke of St. Marys have hired a great staff to assist customers with their needs. Products include edibles, cannabis flower, CBD products, pre-rolls, accessories and more.
“It will be the staff that will make our company succeed,” he said.
Rowe spoke of the importance of safety and said staffers check all customers’ identification at the door regardless of age.
Crossroads Cannabis buys all its products from the province’s Ontario Cannabis Store.
“It’s all very heavily scrutinized,” Rowe said of the product.
While Crossroads Cannabis could have opened before May 25 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the store would have only been allowed to offer pickup. Rowe said the business wanted to wait until staff could welcome customers into the store and meet them personally.