Article by Michael D’Alimonte, Ottawa Business Journal
Long lineups curling along street corners were seen at select Ottawa storefronts on Monday, heralding the arrival of a new type of retailer in the city: legal, privately operated retail cannabis stores.
“It’s going to save me a lot of time,” said Carmel Berlinguette, outside of Fire & Flower cannabis shop in the ByWard Market. “It’s a lot cheaper, too, because I won’t have the delivery costs.”
Three retail cannabis stores are now open in Ottawa: Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store on Bank Street, Superette on Wellington Street West and Fire & Flower on York Street.
Fire & Flower said it recorded more than $50,000 in sales at its ByWard Market location on opening day. The Alberta-based cannabis retailer partnered with two winners of Ontario’s retail cannabis licence lottery to open the Ottawa store.
“Partnering with Fire & Flower allowed us to leverage their expertise and catapult us to where we would not have otherwise been able to get to in three months,” said Michael Patterson, the licence-holder for Fire & Flower York Street Cannabis.
Inside Fire & Flower, a tactile “strain wall” was set up to help customers choose the ideal type of cannabis for their desired experience. At the back, a large space is open for having conversations with retail associates and smelling product.
For those who already have an idea of what they want, a self-service kiosk at the entrance allows customers to key in an order and then collect their purchase from an attendant, bypassing the lineup.
While Ottawa might have only three retail cannabis storefronts, they still face competition from multiple quarters. In addition to the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store – which also controls the inventory for the new private retailers – the new storefronts are also competing against the black market.