The first two legal cannabis stores in Vancouver are set to open January 5 with a third slated to open on January 9.
Evergreen Cannabis Society in December received the first provincial licence ever granted to operate a cannabis store in Vancouver for its store at 2868 West 4th Avenue, but delays with the city during the holiday season forced it to waylay its grand opening until 11 a.m. on January 5.
City Cannabis Co. then earlier this week received the second provincially issued licence to operate a cannabis store in Vancouver. That licence is for a store at East 57th and Fraser (officially unit 7291 at 7289 Fraser Street) and owner Krystian Wetulani told Business in Vancouver that he plans to open that store for the first time at 10 a.m. on January 5.
(Editor's note: Wetulani later decided to open the store on the evening of January 4, thereby becoming the first legal cannabis store to open in the City of Vancouver. To read an updated story, click here.)
Wetulani, on January 4, also received news that his company has received its second licence to open a Vancouver store. That store, at 610 Robson Street, has operated contrary to provincial law since October 17 but closed last week in order to pass an inspection. Wetulani said that his goal is for that store to reopen on January 9.
Three other cannabis stores are licensed in B.C.: two in Kimberley and one in Pouce Coupe.
One concern for entrepreneurs who want to open retail cannabis stores is that they will not be able to get sufficient supplies. Cannabis shortages across Canada have plagued operations in Quebec and Alberta, and prompted the Ontario government to limit the number of private stores that it will allow to open on April 1.
One “big risk,” Wetulani said, is that his stores will have empty shelves.
“We have a lot of staff who are relying on us,” he said. “If we can’t get enough supply it will be tough going. People could be laid off for a few days here and there. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Hopefully that won’t happen.”
His goal is to have eight City Cannabis Co. stores open by the end of the year.
The City of North Vancouver has shortlisted City Cannabis Co. as one of five applicants that are able to go through the process to get licences in that city.
North Vancouver planner Wendy Tse told BIV that North Vancouver staff on January 14 will seek support from the city’s newly elected council to go ahead with the previous council’s decision to licence a maximum of six cannabis stores.
“We are looking at a couple other spots and are close to throwing in a couple more applications with the province,” Wetulani said.
“We’ve been really focused on the Vancouver licences and to be two of the first stores in Vancouver is a big honour. This is the Mecca of cannabis and the city has very cultured consumers.”
One deterrent to operate a store in Vancouver is the city’s annual $33,097 business licence fee. Despite that fee, however, Wetulani said that he expects his two Vancouver stores to both be profitable by the end of the year.