Cannabis store opens for business in Swift Current
The first cannabis store in Swift Current opened for business on the final day of 2018.
Dreamweavers Cannabis Products Inc. is one of two proponents selected in a provincial lottery draw to operate a cannabis retail store in Swift Current.
Celeste and Ron Gerber were pleased with the first few days of business at their downtown location.
“It's been brisk,” Celeste said. “Just like any retail it has its ups and downs, but it's been very brisk and what surprised me is the variety of people that have come in. Pretty much everybody from every walk of life, every age group, it doesn't matter. So it's been very interesting that way.”
Celeste is the president of Dreamweavers Cannabis Products Inc. and Ron is the managing partner. They actually held a soft opening with family and friends of staff on Dec. 30 to evaluate their readiness for their formal opening to the public the next day. Ron noted that they were already busy on the first day.
“For not advertising, the word got out pretty fast that we were open,” he said.
Some of the visitors just used the opportunity to see what the first legal cannabis retail store in Swift Current looked like.
“I would say that probably 90 per cent of the people who come in are to buy and probably about 10 per cent are just looking around and curious, which is fine too,” Celeste said.
The store's interior has a modern and bright appearance that is similar to many other downtown businesses. They wanted to create an upscale and trendy ambience.
“We want people to be comfortable to come in here,” she said. “We're not quite finished with all our interior decorations, but we'll get there. It just takes a little bit of time.”
There is one significant difference to visiting another downtown store. Those entering the business will be greeted by a staff member who will ask for photo ID to confirm their age.
The interior of the store is not visible from the streetfront, which is a requirement for operating a cannabis retail store. The Dreamweavers Cannabis store window is decorated with a graphic design that serves this purpose.
“Health Canada doesn't want us to influence the younger generation in any way, shape or form,” she said. “We actually probably only needed to take it up to about five and a half or six feet, the opaque graphic, but it would look a little odd. So we went the whole way. When we opened it was over the holiday season. So we never had a chance to finish doing the door and the sign and everything, but that will be coming as well.”
The store's opening on the last day of 2018 was a fitting conclusion to a rollercoaster year for the Gerbers, who had to follow an extensive process to start their new business. There was some luck involved too, because the successful applicants for the 51 available retail store permits in Saskatchewan were selected through a lottery draw.
“You actually literally won the lottery,” Celeste said. “So we won the cannabis lottery for Swift Current. ... I think there was 61 applications for Swift Current, and so it was a three per cent chance basically whether we won or not. We were very happy to have won that.”
In their initial application they specifically selected Swift Current as the location where they want to have their business.
“Number one was its location,” she said about their choice. “It's on the highway, it's close to the American border and the next closest areas around it are Moose Jaw and Maple Creek that have stores. So we'll be drawing from a large area.”
They have not been disappointed with their decision to have a business in Swift Current, and people in the city have been welcoming.
“They've welcomed us with open arms,” Ron said. “So we have only positive things to say about the community.”
Both grew up in Saskatchewan, but their careers took them to Calgary. Celeste was born in Tisdale and Ron grew up in Yorkton. He worked as an accountant in the construction business for about 40 years, while she was an architectural technologist who worked as a senior project manager for architecture firms.
“So we're both from Saskatchewan originally, but we raised our family in Calgary and even before the opportunity of having a cannabis store came up, we had been talking about moving back anyway,” she said. “We were tired of the rat race, we wanted to have a quieter life and be more connected to the community. So when this opportunity came up, we just jumped at it.”
Their new business is currently providing full-time employment to six staff members and they are planning to hire some part-time staff.
“Right now Ron and I are filling in,” she said. “We're just in our first week, so we're still working out the bugs, but as we go along we'll take a step back.”
Cannabis retail stores have experienced some challenges to obtain enough product to sell, but they feel confident their store will continue to receive supplies.
“We actually delayed our opening until we knew that we had enough product to stay open for a while and that the shipments would be coming on a regular basis,” she said. “So I think we're OK.”
Ron mentioned that they have been ordering product from different suppliers to ensure sufficient stock for their opening.
“We deal with three or four different suppliers and we're getting enough to be able to operate without any problems at this point,” he said.
At the same time they are not able to obtain all the product they would like to have available in the store.
“A lot of people have come in asking for CBD oil and we would like to be able to supply that, but the licensed producers pretty much across Canada are short on CBD oil,” she said. “So we're not getting that or some of the other products that we would like to get, like the pre-rolls where you could come in and you could just buy three joints. We can't seem to get our hands on those. We are getting enough flower, but were just not getting all the different varieties and stuff that we want to get.”
They are feeling confident about their new business and there are still many things to take care of. Their online store will open soon and additional cannabis products, including edible cannabis and cannabis extracts, will legally become available for sale in Canada on Oct. 17.
Dreamweavers Cannabis Products Inc. President Celeste Gerber stands with staff member Michael LeBlanc, who is the store's head budtender.