After years of intense lobbying and political debate on the merits of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, Canada officially legalized the sale and consumption of the controversial plant in 2018. That decision inspired waves of entrepreneurs to invest their dreams and substantial dollars into Canada’s newly legal and potentially lucrative cannabis industry, and the results were staggering.
In just two years, over 4,000 cannabis stores have opened across the country, with Canada’s most populous province on target to have nearly 1,400 opened by October 2022. In fact, the number of legal cannabis retailers currently operating in the province now vastly outnumber the amount of LCBOs, whose numbers sit at 660 according to the Ontario government. However, not every cloud of cannabis has a silver lining.
With competition mounting and over-regulation making it difficult for small independents to operate on a level playing field with larger companies having greater financial resources, many dispensary operators are either selling their businesses or closing up shop. That fact begs the question: has the dream of a profitable legal cannabis industry in Canada gone up in smoke?
While the initial roll out of the cannabis industry may not have gone as smoothly as initially hoped, there are still many dispensary operators who have managed to not only survive but actively expand since legalization. Take Due North Cannabis Co. in Sault Ste. Marie for example. The father and son owned and operated dispensary recently opened its third location in the area, expanding during a time of unprecedented turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to co-owner Robert Carroll, the company has developed a clearly defined business plan with a couple core pillars that are foundational to its success so far.
“For us, part of the recipe for our success is focusing on our community,” said Carroll. “We run a program called Support Local. We work with other businesses to gather donations and highlight local entrepreneurs in our community. Coming out of COVID it’s never been more important to shop local.”
The other pillar of success for Due North Cannabis is a simple one according to Carroll: providing top-notch customer service.
“We are hyper-focused on the customer. We try to provide value to the customer. We engage in a tone of training that allows us to provide a premium experience. We listen to our customers. Being small we can pivot quickly on policies, procedures and product mix that keep customers happy.”
Part of that premium experience includes engaging customers in multiple ways, from offering educational experiences like joint rolling classes and fun interactive in-store activities to providing a comprehensive loyalty program, one that has helped Due North Cannabis to develop a platform of active customers they can regularly connect with.
Another advantage of focusing on local is that rather than expanding out of market, Due North Cannabis has established a centralized operation in the Sault that has helped the company grow and develop its ties to the community.
“I say this to my staff all the time, we sell product knowledge and customer service,” said Carroll. “We’re putting kindness at the forefront of our customer experience, and it makes everyone feel good. Going above and beyond, introducing customers to new technology and new products is a key. For us, not only have we become one of the fastest growing businesses in Sault Ste. Marie, we’ve also begun to develop a following and rapport with local businesses and residents. This positive impact from the community is where I gauge our success.”
Due North Cannabis Co. is the Soo’s #1 dispensary with three locations to serve you better. To learn more, visit due North Cannabis in Churchill Plaza, Pine Plaza or at their new location at 710 Second Line East. They also offer pickup and delivery at their website https://duenorthcannabis.com/. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook for new product updates and daily deals.