Article by Tyler Evans, Orillia Matters
Bonnefire, a Toronto-based cannabis dispensary, has applied to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for a new retail store at 34 Mississaga St. E.
If approved, it would become the third cannabis retail store in the downtown – all within a block of one another.
“We are really excited to be coming to Orillia right now to build this industry further,” said Bonnefire general manager Joe Khan.
The new 2,200-square-foot store will be Bonnefire’s first expansion store; the original location can be found in downtown Toronto on Queen Street West.
“My brother went to Lakehead University in Orillia, so we would commute quite a bit and we’ve spent a few of our summers in Orillia, too. I’ve always loved Orillia because the atmosphere is so different,” Khan explained.
Khan says his Toronto store attracted interest from Orillia cannabis users when they first opened their doors in Toronto last March.
“When we first opened there weren’t too many dispensaries around and we were getting people from Barrie and Orillia coming down and asking us to open a location closer to them. That really struck a chord with us,” he said.
Despite Happy Dayz and Miss Jones Sunshine City Outpost already offering similar products in the downtown core, Khan says he isn’t worried about opening his business in a crowded market.
“We’ve noticed with stores opening with where we are in Toronto that it hasn’t impacted our sales,” he said.
“We offer a different customer experience and that’s really our focus with other competition.”
The Bonnefire team is hoping to hear back on the status of their application within the next two months, as they are anxious to get down to business in Orillia.
Mike Knight, the chair of the Downtown Orillia Management Board and president of Town’s Jewellers, says he’s not sure if another cannabis shop is what the downtown core needs right now.
“Do we need a third cannabis shop on the block? I’m not sure that we do. But, hopefully, they will be a good merchant and do a nice job,” Knight said.
“We hope that they do well, we hope they bring lots of people downtown, but I would question what the Province of Ontario is thinking if they approve this. How many do we really need?”
Downtown shopper Jamie Lepage says he’s excited to see another cannabis retailer in town.
“It’s a good opportunity for people to find a good recreational use of marijuana in Orillia,” he said.
“It’s a good business opportunity for the City of Orillia. Technically, you are buying from the government and you are paying your dues, so it’s just another way to build a great economy.”