London was the first Southwestern Ontario city to land a cannabis retail store, but Windsor will soon take the title as the region’s pot shop capital.
Fourteen applications have been filed with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), the province’s pot regulator, to open new marijuana retail outlets in Windsor, with another six stores planned in nearby communities.
In London, where four of the brick-and-mortar businesses now operate, there are applications for an additional four outlets.
Why is Windsor — a city with just more than half London’s population — attracting so many cannabis retail stores?
David Craig, chief design officer for J. Supply Co., Windsor’s only current cannabis retail store, said the city’s proximity to the U.S., population and demand for cannabis and culture make it an ideal choice.
“We just saw it as a good opportunity,” said Craig, whose company stuck a deal with store owner Kirk Anastasiadis, a London businessperson and winner of Ontario’s second pot licence lottery.
Craig welcomed the competition the new stores will bring, saying it’s no different than other retail businesses and restaurants.
“The thing that set you apart is the experience and also the product selection that you have available,” he said.
It’s not clear when customers will be able to buy cannabis in person again. Ontario marijuana retailers were forced to close temporarily last month amid the COVID-19 pandemic after not being including on the list of essential businesses. But the province revised the list, allowing the businesses to offer curbside pickup and delivery.
The AGCO hasn’t provided a timeline for opening any of the proposed London and Windsor stores, though most are expected to be running by the summer. The commission briefly paused processing retail store applications before resuming the process last month.
One of Canada’s largest cannabis store chains will soon arrive in London.
Fire and Flower has applied to open at 695 Richmond St., just doors down from the J. London dispensary, as part of its plan to open eight new locations across Ontario.
“London is a place where the Fire and Flower brand is very much aligned to,” chief financial officer Nadia Vattovaz said.