Calgary Co-op will be among the retailers selling cannabis and cannabis products when recreational use becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17.
Jim Riege, managing director of the company’s cannabis division, told the CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener that surveys conducted last year suggested customers were interested in being able to purchase cannabis and related products at its stores, which have traditionally carried products such as food and gasoline.
“We thought it would be another great option for our members to purchase more products from Co-op,” Riege told Eyeopener. “Some [customers] definitely are excited about it coming to fruition…others are not as excited, and that’s to be expected given the stigma around cannabis.”
According to Riege, Calgary Co-op plans to operate 12 standalone stores averaging between 1,000 sq. ft. and 1,200 sq. ft., with cannabis products stored in locked cabinets that are inaccessible to customers without an employee present.
Riege said the Co-op planned to use a combination of new and existing staff, who would help customers select appropriate products. He said the stores would carry 300 or more products, including paraphernalia such as vaporizers and bongs.
Each location will feature approximately 15 cannabis products that customers can see and smell in so-called “sniff jars,” though they will not be permitted to touch the products. Riege also said provincial rules forbid the Co-op from selling snacks traditionally associated with post-cannabis consumption, such as chips and chocolate bars.
The City of Calgary reportedly received more than 250 applications for cannabis stores, with Global News Calgary reporting 102 applications were approved. Reports said the list of addresses of approved locations released by the City last week also included seven Real Canadian Superstore locations.
The City of Calgary’s recent “What We Heard” report, based on more than 13,000 responses from an online survey and workshops with community and business organizations, revealed more than 5,000 people said they would be “very likely” to purchase cannabis at a retail store when it becomes legal, while approximately 2,000 people indicated they would be “somewhat likely” to purchase cannabis
The report also revealed 59% of respondents believe cannabis stores should maintain the same hours as the province’s liquor stores, which are permitted to operate from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.