The importance of going slow
5Buds Cannabis is a 100 per cent Saskatchewan-owned business that believes the key to success in this industry is preparedness, education and working in harmony with the local community. Last April, Synergy 5 Investments submitted their proposal for the operation of retail cannabis stores in Saskatchewan. By June, the owners had received approval to operate three stores: Warman (target opening Nov. 30, 2018), North Battleford (target opening January 2019), and Yorkton (target opening Spring 2019).
The four founding members of Synergy 5, Prince Albert First Nations Business Development, Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies, Des Neche Development, and Athabasca Basin Development, share common goals in giving back to their communities and working to improve the lives of the Indigenous communities that own them. Profits from 5Buds Cannabis will go towards building wealth and economic development for 13 First Nations in Saskatchewan and will also support local non-profit organizations.
Corey Tyacke, retail general manager for 5Buds Cannabis, tells us that the company’s primary focus as they prepare to enter the market has been to build trust and get the community as comfortable with their presence as they can be.
How Does One Get into the Cannabis Industry? Tyacke shares his story: “When the issue of legalization was brought up at the federal election two years ago, I was intrigued. I started to read about cannabis and eventually signed up for an online course. I’m originally from the food and beverage industry, and I felt a similar draw when I started learning about wines. Wine is a beverage with so many personalities and I started to relate it to cannabis. Cannabis is a lot like wine in terms of diversity. When you look at the plant itself, there are so many characteristics – smell, varietal, strains, flavour values, etc. For example, that first scent of wine, it doesn’t smell too exciting, but as you swirl it around you can start to pull out other scents like blackberry. Cannabis is a lot like that, and as a food and beverage geek I really enjoyed learning about it.”
“We have met with some of the school boards, the city, RCMP and police stations,” says Tyacke. “Our goal is to address any concerns that the community may have before we open. The community has been really great, everyone is excited to have us come in, and they are showing an interest in the whole sector. We feel the long-term approach will be the successful one. You can’t rush this because there are too many unknowns right now. The world is watching us and the choices we make may one day influence how cannabis is legalized across the rest of the world. Edibles and beverages are not legal in Canada just yet, and that is okay. It is going to be an interesting year, and we are all going to learn from it. Next October 17, the industry will look very different from the way it does now. We will have learnt so much during that first year.”
5Buds Cannabis will carry a wide selection of high-quality, legal retail goods. Inventory will be sourced from approved producers and include items such as buds, oils, capsules and an elevated accessory line-up.
Tyacke tells us that they also plan to venture into paper goods including some of the fun gift items that customers are sure to enjoy. Establishments will be secure and staffed by friendly, professional and knowledgeable team members. 5Buds will also provide guests with information about the safe and responsible use of their products.
It is important to 5Buds Cannabis that retail stores have several precautions in place to protect children, customers and staff. Store windows will be frosted with a security film that also provides a protective membrane to protect against break-ins. Once inside, customers will have to check in with a receptionist. This allows front end staff to confirm customers are of age and ensure that 5buds is being responsible and providing protection for personnel and fellow customers.
The laws surrounding cannabis make it challenging to market. Campaigns cannot depict marijuana or its products to ensure children are not exposed to it. That said, 5Buds Cannabis does have plans to work on their brand exposure.
“We are doing some brand recognition marketing, and we will have billboards coming out,” says Tyacke. “Social media will also be a part of our strategy. Our Facebook site limits entry to those over the age of 19. Linked-In is a great platform to reach professionals and share information about the industry. Ultimately, we need to be careful how we talk about cannabis as we can only discuss factual information.”
Unlike the prohibition where provinces lifted the ban on alcohol use over the course of several years, the legalization of cannabis is happening country-wide, on one day. While that doesn’t mean all businesses will be open for customers on Oct. 17, it is still an unprecedented event. The industry will be under intense government, law enforcement, and public scrutiny. How everything will unfold is still unknown, but one thing is for certain, it is bound to be an exciting year as the cannabis industry sets down its roots in our society.
is a freelance writer, editor, publisher and photographer. She has worked in the publishing industry for the last 15 years on a wide variety of B2B and consumer publications, both in print and online. You can connect with her through her blog