Second cannabis retailer announces plans to open store in Thompson next year

Garden Variety says 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot store will be in a shopping centre, offer pre-rolled joints

A second marijuana retailer has announced plans to open a cannabis store in Thompson following legalization, with a projected opening date of early next year.

Garden Variety, a consortium of Avana Canada Inc., Fisher River Cree Nation, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, MediPharm Labs Inc. and Colorado-based marijuana retail chain Native Roots, says its plans to open two stores in Winnipeg this year and stores in Thompson and Brandon next year.

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The goal is to open the Thompson store before the end of March, but no specific date has been set yet.

“We took time to learn what Canadians and especially Manitobans were looking for in a retail cannabis experience and developed the Garden Variety with the specific aim of aligning with those needs,” said Garden Variety and Native Roots CEO Ryan Brown in a press release. “We know from our operational experiences with Native Roots over the past nine years in the U.S. that we must start by asking the right questions of our customers rather than assume we know what they want. Garden Variety is the result of that investigation, and its concepts and design are inviting, comfortable and anything but ordinary.”

The company says Manitoba’s Growth, Enterprise and Trade department has reviewed the proposed locations and found them permissible and that work has been done behind the scenes to ensure a welcoming and relaxed shopping experience offering cannabis flower, non-combustible oil and pre-rolled joints in their stores and through online ordering and home delivery.

“We are still finalizing leases so we can't release the specific address [in Thompson] until that is complete,” said Kim Casey of Garden Variety. “Our location will be in a shopping centre in a pre-existing building. From the Native Roots experience in Colorado we find the ideal size of an adult retail location to be between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet for optimal efficiency.”

The company expects to have a staff of 15 to 25 employees, mostly from the community, Casey says.

Native Roots has 20 retail locations and more than 600 employees in 11 Colorado communities. It was founded in 2009 as an operator of medical marijuana dispensaries and expanded into recreational sales following legalization in 2014.

Avana is a licensed producer and retailer with a 27,000-square-foot flagship facility with the ability to expand to over 350 acres in St. Thomas, Ontario, and a one-million-square-foot greenhouse in Kingsville, Ontario.

MediPharm, founded in 2015, was the first company in Canada to become a licensed producer for cannabis oil production under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) without first receiving a cannabis cultivation licence, Garden Variety says.

“Each of the Garden Variety partners brings something special to the table, which makes the company stronger as a whole,” said Chief David Crate of Fisher River Cree Nation, which is located about 200 kilometres north of Winnipeg. “We are excited to bring both our perspectives as Manitobans and as an Indigenous nation to this partnership.”

Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is an Ojibway community established in 1760 along the north bank of the Thames River approximately 20 kilometres southwest of London, Ontario.

One of the other four cannabis companies conditionally approved by the province to offer retail sales of marijuana in Manitoba following legalization of the drug, expected by Oct. 17, announced plans July 3 to open four stores, including one in Thompson. The target date for the Thompson store to open is before the end of 2018, CEO John Arbuthnot told the Thompson Citizen in July, and the location of that store has not yet been publicly announced.

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