Hello Cannabis officially opened its doors for business in Sault Ste. Marie Friday morning, packing people into the city’s first legal cannabis retail store.
All 20 of the store’s local employees were busy assisting customers, who were using scrolling wall menus and table-top screens in order to get a better sense of the vast array of cannabis products housed in the decidedly boutique-like atmosphere.
“I think it’s a great thing. I really do,” said one potential customer, who did not wish to be named. “I think it’s very important that it’s accessible to people, not just having to go online.”
“You can just come in, buy it, don’t have to wait for it in the mail.”
Product consultant Rachelle Dionne was enthused by people’s reactions to the stigma-free shopping experience during the store’s first hour of business.
“It’s lovely. It’s great to see the smiles on everybody’s face - the faux-pas has gone away, and it’s the acceptance, where everybody feels like they can be free again,” she told SooToday.
Hello Cannabis CEO Stephen Verbeek says that one of the store’s fundamental roles is to ultimately reduce human suffering brought on by the opioid crisis.
He’s confident that "something special" is happening here in the Sault.
“It’s always overwhelming. You stand there with goosebumps - there’s a row of people that look like they’re very cold, and very eager to get their cannabis,” said Verbeek. “It’s starting to calm down a little bit now, but the jitters are gone, the rush and adrenaline are starting to wear off - and now you can soak it in a little bit and realize that Sault Ste. Marie’s got something really special in my opinion, and I hope that they see it and appreciate it just as much as we did.”
“We’re very grateful and very proud that the community brought us in and welcomed us with open arms.”
More information, including a live menu of cannabis products, can be found at the Hello Cannabis website.