Article by Steve Gibb, Growth Op
Witnessing the launch of cannabis retails stores while living in Alberta, Sarnia’s Jordan Denomme was intrigued. “I got to see how well the stores were received early on as people increasingly transitioned to acceptance of legal recreational cannabis use,” he says.
Once cannabis retail licenses started being granted in Ontario, Denomme knew it was time to pack up his fifteen-year environmental testing career in Edmonton. “It seems like a lot of young people want to try life in a big city but last spring, I realized Sarnia is where I really want to be.”
The franchisee owner of Sessions Sarnia engaged him as store manager. “I feel fortunate that I’m able to bring something so new to Sarnia. Since I grew up here, I feel very strongly about introducing recreational cannabis in a responsible way,” Denomme says.
On Jan. 27 of this year, Sessions Sarnia celebrated its official opening at 600 Murphy Rd. in the plaza near the Real Canadian Superstore. COVID-19 lockdown was in effect, which meant only staff were permitted inside.
“It’s actually been nice to slowly open our store to customers. Cannabis is a very different type of retail with more restrictions compared to everything else,” says Denomme.
Like the store manager, the two key leads and four budtenders are Sarnia residents, most having grown up in town. Denomme is pleased with the “topnotch, friendly and capable team. The process of getting to know one another and this operation has been really natural. Everyone is passionate about cannabis, which is why I feel so confident in them. We are here for the same reason: inform the public about cannabis products and help everyone use them properly.”
Denomme was impressed by how smoothly Sessions Sarnia was created under the guidance of Darryl Allen and Steven Fry, cofounders of Sessions Cannabis, the largest cannabis company in Ontario.
“Because Sessions is such a big chain, it has a ton of resources to put a store together very thoroughly and quickly,” Denomme observes. “I am thankful that on day one of my hiring, I was in training right away with incredible leaders teaching me the ways to be successful in this exciting industry.”
“We’re glad to be able to take care of customers in our showroom now that lockdown is lifted,” says Denomme. “It didn’t seem right to have such a beautiful store and not have customers inside.”
Bright, light, colourful and spotless, the modern showroom features product-forward style shopping with a huge island displaying cannabis items. Information signs and budtenders provide details. The store manager notes, “We have more products than I even knew existed: cannabis flowers, concentrates, vape cartridges, CBD items, topicals, tinctures, beverages, gummies, chocolates and other edibles, plus all the accessories. Our selection is the largest in Sarnia.”
The inventory is restocked weekly and customers’ suggestions and special requests are encouraged.
“It’s interesting to see new customers at our door. Some look a little nervous, not sure what to expect. I believe because our store is modern, clean and organized, that is one step to overcoming the lingering stigma attached to cannabis,” Denomme says. “After all, cannabis was put in the category of hard drugs for decades. Then it went from illegal to legal overnight. We have work to do in informing people about recreational cannabis. I want it to have the respect that it deserves and eliminate the stigma.”
Positive feedback from customers indicate Sessions Sarnia is headed in the right direction. Many people are in their fifties and sixties and have been waiting a long time for legal cannabis to come to their community.