GLACE BAY, N.S. —
Smoking hot pot sales have led to 15 more cannabis stores set to open in the province, including four in Cape Breton.
“We will have a total of 27 cannabis stores by April 1, 2021,” said Beverley Ware, spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC), adding the new stores are being built in the existing stores.
On Monday, Nov. 16, a cannabis store will be opening in the Port Hawkesbury NSLC store. A cannabis store is scheduled to open in the Baddeck store Nov. 23, in the Glace Bay store, Nov. 30 and Sydney Mines store April 1, 2021
“There is a possibility the dates might be subject to change a bit, right now those are the dates scheduled for their openings,” Ware added.
When 12 locations in the province were initially selected for cannabis stores, the decision was based on population hubs in central areas where they could reach the largest number of customers.
Ware said they knew at some point they’d be adding to that network to fill in the gaps in-between. First, they needed to determine demand as well as sales history.
“We have selected stores not being served well by the larger stores now in place,” she said.
While there has been online ordering and home delivery available, sales were low, which is one of the reasons NSLC decided to expand the in-store network, she added.
“It seems customers prefer to come into the stores and chat with our people and have a discussion on what products they might be looking for,” Ware said. “If customers aren’t keen on ordering online and would prefer to be in stores then we want to be able to provide them with the avenues to shop the way that they would like.”
Of the 15 new stores earmarked some have already opened including Liverpool, Elmsdale, Tacoma Drive in Dartmouth, Tatamagouche, Mill Cove and Tantallon.
As well as the Cape Breton stores, the others to open by April 1 include Annapolis, Barrington Passage, Berwick, Mahone Bay and Sheet Harbour.
All of the stores, except the Tantallon store, one will include a 200-400 square foot module unit built off-site and then assembled inside the store.
The larger stores like Tantallon – which is about 1,000 square feet — will have the full product selection like the Sydney River store.
The smaller stores will carry a selection of about 100 products including some chilled beverages and vape products.
“They will have a good selection of our more popular products across all categories,” Ware said.
Product such as the dried flower – pre-rolled and loose — is still the most popular product by far and they aren’t having any issues with supply.
With some phase two products such as cold beverages, there are limitations due to lack of consistency in supply.
“Overall, when it comes to the vape products, chocolates, soft chews and teas and things like that, we are able to keep those products in stock,” she added.
Ware said NSLC cannabis stores consistently have the largest number of products in stock of any jurisdiction in Canada.
There are now eight local producers and 29 suppliers from the rest of Canada.
Nova Scotia cannabis accounts for 18.9 per cent of all sales.
“When you look at overall sales, that’s really quite tremendous,” Ware said. “That’s a strong reflection I’d say of the quality of Nova Scotia products. That Nova Scotians are really appreciating the fact that that they are produced here in Nova Scotia so they want to support local but it also shows the quality of the product, that customers are continuing to purchase them.”
Cannabis overall accounts for 10.2 per cent of NSLC sales. NSLC released its second quarter financial results on Oct. 27, reporting sales for the quarter were $216.6 million, with beverage alcohol sales of $194.5 million and cannabis sales of $22.1 million.
Ware said both beverage alcohol and cannabis sales have gone up since the pandemic with several factors contributing to that including customers making fewer visits to the stores in keeping with COVID-19 protocols and purchasing more and larger package sizes when they’re there to reduce the number of trips they make.
Cannabis became legal in Canada Oct. 17, 2018. All cannabis purchase, sales and distribution in Nova Scotia are under the auspices of the NSLC.
Roland Fowler, coming out of the Glace Bay NSLC store with a case of beer Thursday, was happy about the news of the addition of cannabis products.
Fowler said it’s a long drive to Sydney River for anyone wishing any type of cannabis product. With Glace Bay having a large store, he expected a cannabis section would have been available after cannabis was legalized in 2018.
“It’s great news it’s coming though and will probably cut down on an illegal sale that might still be going on here,” he said. “I’m sure there are some people not wanting to go that route that still do as they don’t have a vehicle or can’t afford the extra cost of travel. It’s legal so it should be more available for those wishing to purchase it.”
– Sharon Montgomery is a reporter with the Cape Breton Post in Sydney. Follow Sharon on Twitter @CBPost_Sharon.