Cannabis retail comes to a mall and an airport near you

Cannabis stores target airports and malls to build their brands and destigmatize cannabis use.

At least in some cases, frequent cannabis use does not dampen business smarts. It also can make for  strange business partnerships. Rapper and cannabis entrepreneur Snoop Dogg has an estimated net worth of $150 million. He and media icon Martha Stewart are in the pot business together and have become good friends.

Going back a few years, his surreal movie Soul Plane is one of the classic stoner movies, according to Rolling Stone magazine. So it’s not surprising the airline industry is in no rush to brush elbows with the cannabis industry. This may change, but it may take awhile.

More than three years after Canada legalized recreational cannabis, competition is heating up. Ontario alone has more than a thousand stores. In hot spots like Toronto’s Queen Street, it’s especially hard for retailers and brands to stand out.

Here’s one way. Copilot, a new cannabis brand, is applying to operate in British Columbia’s Prince George Airport. It may be the world’s first airport pot shop.

“Copilot is a sign of the new territory pot stores are eager to break into,” reports Tara Deschamps of the Canadian Press. “In recent months, they’ve cropped up at malls, gas station plazas and beside breweries. Some like B.C. pot retailer Seed and Stone are even planning to open virtual dispensaries in the metaverse — an immersive and emerging digital world.”

“The whole industry completely misunderstood what would happen because they thought the only barrier is legalization and once we’re legal, people will just buy,” Joanne McNeish, a Ryerson University professor specializing in marketing, told CP.

While breaking into airports and malls could help companies stand out from other brands, it may also help destigmatize cannabis.

Canopy Growth brought Tokyo Smoke cannabis shops to malls through a partnership with Edmonton Oilers owner the Katz Group. Now, there are Tokyo Smoke stores in eight shopping centres in Ontario.

In an effort to stand out, High Tide Inc. is targeting shopping areas with large anchor tenants. “Hide Tide can typically score cannabis exclusivity there, but he’s also delving into malls by opening Canna Cabana shops at Winnipeg’s St. Vital Centre and Alberta’s Prairie Mall,” says the CP article.

Those locations will include digital kiosks and lockers to speed up browsing, ordering and pickup. The locations will also be chosen to avoid enticing children.

At present, travellers cannot board flights leaving Canada with cannabis. Copilot plans to ask customers where they are headed and remind people they can’t fly internationally with pot.

Meanwhile, as a sign of the status quo, Air Canada and WestJet are recommending Prince George’s city council not permit airport pot shops.

This may change. Stay tuned.

If you enjoyed this story, check out this article.

SOURCE:

Cannabis stores push into malls, airports as competition among retailers increases

By Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press, April 3, 2022.

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