Recreational cannabis stores have been open for business in most Canadian provinces for almost two years. Although still early in the industry’s evolution, we are starting to observe some independent retailers, franchises, and chains gaining in popularity and prominence. Alberta continues to lead the nation with over 500 stores. British Columbia and Ontario follow behind with approximately 250 shops and 140 shops respectively. Through store openings, mergers, acquisitions, lockdowns, being declared an essential service, and more 2020 has been a wild year for retailers in this industry. Let’s take a look at the Canadian cannabis storefront brand finalists as voted by you, the ADCANN community.
Calyx + Trichomes
Calyx + Trichomes is a unique and well-respected cannabis store with roots in the legacy market. The store is family-owned and based in Kingston, Ontario. They bill themselves as “Kingston’s Cannabis Store,” being the only locally-grown independent retailer in the area.
Calyx + Trichomes embraces the beauty and complexity of the cannabis plant in their store name and design. To understand the name, you need to understand cannabis anatomy and terminology which means they are likely attracting knowledgeable and enthusiastic consumers more so than newbies. While other stores have chosen a more simplistic and suggestive approach, Calyx + Trichomes leaves no question about the type of products they sell. From floor to ceiling, the walls of the shop are covered in massive murals of macro pictures of weed leaves, trichomes, pistils, and more.
This store employed the most creative campaign strategy to gain votes in the ADCANN 2020 Awards that we’ve seen to date. Every day on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels Calyx + Trichomes told a different cannabis-related joke to their followers, with a link to the voting page attached. This was a great way to keep their audience engaged and bring them value while simultaneously driving enough votes to push them into the top five finalists. They use these same social media channels to stay involved with and connected to the Canadian cannabis community.
“We are doing what we love in the city we love and it’s a total dream come true! Now, our little independent store in Kingston, which we designed and built ourselves by following our hearts and trusting our instincts, actually might be recognized as Storefront of the Year?!? It is completely surreal we are in this position, and would be the bright red cherry on our weed sundae. Winning this would make all the uncertainty, exhausting late nights, heartache and bureaucracy we’ve dealt with worth it.
Jennawae McLean, CEO + Co-Founder, Calyx + Trichomes
Canadian Cannabis Storefront Brand Trends
The Importance of Building Your Retail Brand Online
All of these cannabis retail stores have a heavy focus on digital marketing and communications. All five are active on social media with their consumers (and in the case of Spiritleaf and Choom their investors as well). Since traditional advertising isn’t permitted and many in-person events and activations are postponed due to COVID-19, social media and digital channels are incredibly important for retailers and brands alike looking to gain awareness and loyalty.
When examining some of the top cannabis storefronts across the nation, we’ve noticed a few interior design patterns. Cleanliness and simplicity are two qualities most of these shops possess. THC is the epitome of this, with a futuristic, Apple Store, spaceship-like feel. Calyx & Trichomes bucks this trend with their old school legacy market feel and giant cannabis murals. Choom combines this cleanliness and simplicity with colourful and fun imagery. All four shops except for THC use a lot of brown and black hardwood as flooring, furniture, and wall paneling. These stores are aesthetically pleasing and most feature some sort of selfie wall or “Instagrammable” installation. In a digital age, one way to become and remain a destination is by encouraging sharing online through intelligent interior design choices.
Potentially most importantly, all 5 of these cannabis retailers have a sense of authenticity. Calyx & Trichomes and THC Canada both come from the pre-recreational market and have built a strong reputation among the Canadian cannabis community. Spiritleaf strives to be the most trusted retailer and is very open, cheerful, and down-to-earth in their messaging. Choom is a brand that stays authentic and true to its values. 1922 shares the full, honest, heartfelt story about their founding on their website in order to humanize their business and connect with their customers. The success of all of these stores proves that when you’re on the front lines selling products to consumers, it is essential to be authentic and truthful.