Stocking up on Green Rush accessories
by: Andy Palalas
Canada’s Green Rush is for convenience owners too! With the legalization of cannabis looming, the growing market for lifestyle accessories like water pipes, grinders and dugouts represents an enormous opportunity for revenue in a category that is brand new to many owners and operators. No doubt some of these accessories are unfamiliar, and with a wide spectrum of quality (and less than quality) products emerging on the market, how can you be sure that you’re stocking what your customers are buying? We’ve put together a guide that answers the most common questions convenience owners have about these next hot-sellers.
- Why should I stock lifestyle accessories? With over 30 per cent of Canadians ready to enjoy legal herb, there’s no question that consumption of these accessories is set to skyrocket… and convenience locations are the ideal spot for purchase. Most accessories have been sold at specialty shops over the years, and while those locations typically stock a wide variety, they generally keep regular business hours and appeal to a local fanbase of enthusiasts. This presents a problem, as many consumers enjoy herb in the evening hours, or are looking to purchase an inexpensive accessory in a pinch. For now, the only place to pick one up on the go is your c-store.
- I want my checkout to look clean, professional, and uncluttered. What are my options? In the past, many inexpensive lifestyle accessories have come unpackaged, loose, and without proper branding or labelling. Lack of proper SKUs and the breakable nature of glass products can add to the frustration of trying to merchandise and stock properly. Today, there are an increasing number of options in products that come with professional packaging and recognizable brand names, along with barcodes and box instructions for ease of use, display, and customer inquiries. In addition, corrugated trays keep things organized, neat and uniform.
- What products should I consider stocking? With a dizzying array of accessories from large water pipes, to small grab-and-go items, to gizmos and gadgets, knowing what you’re looking for is important. In general, the most desirable and high volume items are the most basic ones – hand pipes, grinders and storage solutions. These move quickly and are largely disposable, as they are inexpensive and often lost or broken. Water Pipes are desirable also, as long as the price point is below competitive, premium products available at local specialty shops. Steer clear of peculiar gadgets with batteries or hard to explain functions – they can be a headache.
- What are grinders, and which should I stock? Grinders are small, portable items used to break up herbs for consumption. Simple grinders are one-stage, and contain only one chamber with grinding teeth. Two-stage grinders have a second chamber that the herb drops into for storage. Three-stage grinders have a third chamber that catches the fine powder and minimizes waste. By far, three-stage grinders are preferred by consumers and are the most functional. Grinders can be made of plastic, zinc, or aluminum. Plastic should be avoided as the teeth break easily. Zinc can do in a pinch, but aluminum is far superior with durability and shelf appeal. Beware of battery operated grinders – they break easily, are expensive, and don’t add much value to the very simple process of grinding.
- What are water pipes, and which should I stock? Waterpipes are a large tabletop variety of pipe, with the most popular models standing 10-14” tall. Larger than 14” and waterpipes become novelty, while smaller than 10” pipes are best suited for more niche purposes like herb extracts (a different thing altogether). Water Pipes are usually made of plastic, glass or ceramic. Plastics are cheap, disposable and sell well, though they tend to look cluttered and junky. Ceramics are generally artistic, more niche and slower to move. Glass is the gold standard, and waterpipes made of glass come in near endless variations. As a rule of thumb, thickness and clarity are the main markers of quality. A glass piece that feels heavy in your hand and is not cloudy or discolored is the most desirable. Some soft glass varieties come in inexpensive, colorful patterns that sell well, but the kind most favored by consumers is clear glass. Though their size makes it challenging to stock a large variety in a c-store environment, having a few water pipes is a must.
- What are hand pipes, and which should I stock? Hand Pipes are the most popular accessories out there, and are guaranteed hot-sellers. Typically three to six inches long and made of glass, wood or metal, they fit in the palm of your hand and can be easily transported for on-the-go use. Wood hand pipes are crafty and appeal to some, while inexpensive metal pipes litter the market and are generally desirable only for their cheap price point. Glass is the most desired, as glass is inert and does not add any additional contaminants or flavours to a consumer’s enjoyment.
- What are dugouts, and which should I stock? Dugouts are an innovative pocket-sized product, also known as a one-hitter. Often rectangular and the size of a small chocolate bar, they are storage compartments for herb that also include a pop out bat – a short cylindrical tube that can be gently tamped into the herb storage compartment and used as a miniature pipe. These all-in-one solutions are typically made of wood or aluminum, with aluminum models increasing in popularity thanks to durability and better odor containment.
- What other products are must-haves for my customers? When merchandising accessories, keeping things simple is the best policy. That said, there are other popular varieties of hand and waterpipes that shouldn’t be missed. Bubbler hand pipes feature a small glass chamber to be filled with water, providing the same filtration as a water pipe in a portable format. Glass Sherlock hand pipes are shaped into a mock old-style pipe, featuring deeper bowls that fit nicely into the palm. While basic water pipes are great, many designs feature diffusers or percolators – desirable accessories built into the waterpipe that provide additional bubbles and aeration. Consumers love this!
With so many options, sticking to these lifestyle accessory guidelines will make product selection an easy, profitable process. Put this growing category of hot-sellers to work for your C-Store today!
Andy Palalas is the director of sales at Famous Brandz, an accessories company working with licensed brands like Paramount Pictures, Snoop Dogg & the Trailer Park Boys, providing licensed C-Store products in Canada.