Article by Jim Moodie, Sudbury Star
At least one of Sudbury’s two marijuana retailers is now back in business for curbside pickup after the province changed its mind about a move to close all pot stores.
Eugene Konarev, manager of the HighLife location on Marcus Drive, said he and others in the sector were caught off guard when the government decided this past weekend to remove cannabis retail from the list of essential services.
“It was surprising, but they made that call, even though there only 62 stores in Ontario that are operational right now,” he said. “But there was a group, led by lobbyist Omar Khan, that got in touch with the government and the attorney general, and they were able to push for an emergency order to reopen the stores as of Tuesday night.”
Pot shops will not be allowed to accept walk-in customers, however, so HighLife had to quickly devise an alternative plan, said Konarev.
“We had to scramble to build and integrate with a special click-and-collect system,” he said. “We did this in just one day, on Tuesday.”
The manager said there is no mechanism in place right now for private retailers to accept online payments so HighLife had to improvise.
“We have combined online capability of ordering with phone capability for processing the credit card,” he said. “You can order the product online and then someone calls you back, takes your credit card information and manually punches the information into the terminal.”
Once that is done, “you get a text message saying the order is complete and somebody hands you the order in front of the store, checking your ID to make sure your order matches with the payment.”
HighLife opened again Thursday at 1 p.m. to fill online orders, he said, with a half-dozen staff on hand to finalize payments and arrange pickups over the phone.
He said the system was working quite well, with more than 100 orders processed within three hours of opening.
Sudbury’s other pot retailer at the Four Corners is also working on a way to serve customers again, he said, although this location did not seem to be operational on Thursday.
A call to the Canna Cabana, on Long Lake Road, drew only a recorded message stating: “Unfortunately, due to the Ontario lockdown, we are closed indefinitely.”
At its Facebook page, however, the company promised pickup and delivery will be “coming soon,” with “details to come shortly.”
Konarev said his store could also deliver orders to customers but it has chosen not to at this moment.
“We made the decision that we won’t deliver because we’re mindful of the health and safety of our staff members,” he said.
Apart from exposing workers to a possible case of COVID-19, there is also a concern that their cargo could be targeted by a thief.