Darryl Deschenes says he sells happiness.
Deschenes, the general manager of Canna Cabana, Sudbury’s first peddler of pot, says since opening Saturday – certainly an auspicious 4/20 for customers – business has been brisk.
“Business has been insane; it’s been beautiful,” he said Monday. “It’s been non-stop. There’s been a line-up outside since we opened our doors on Saturday at 9 a.m.”
Deschenes said most customers want a strain with a high THC content.
“The highest THC level is what I’m seeing the majority of the people wanting,” he said. “We are getting a great variety of people looking for oils, for accessories, hybrids, indicas, sativas – everything we’re carrying right now, but the highest THC products are the ones going off the shelf first.”
Currently, the shop, located on Long Lake Road, is stocking a variety of smokables and oil products, including sprays with a THC content of up to 20 per cent.
“These are the happiest people in the city,” he said. “I’m thinking that we’re selling happiness in here right now.”
As far as smokables are concerned, Deschenes said he has brought in cannabis with a THC content of 28 per cent. But it flew off the shelves.
“That would be the Kinky Kush and we ran out of that at 11 a.m. on Saturday – within the first two hours we ran out of our highest THC,” he said.
Deschenes says the public appetite for legalized herb is strong.
“I’ve known for a long time this was a demand and I think it’s a big demand in any city. I think Sudbury is one of the higher demands, for sure,” he said. “We’re getting a huge variety of people; very diverse, from 19 years old to an 82-year-old we had in here on Saturday.”
The majority of customers so far have been 25 to 40 years old, Deschenes says.
Patrons must be 19 to enter the store; parents are not permitted to bring their children inside. Opaque screens cover windows. Product is displayed on the floor inside glass-top tables while behind the counter bongs, paraphernalia and accessories take centre stage. Canna Cabana does not sell edibles. Deschenes says they remain illegal and therefore, are not available at the shop. They also do not sell hash oil or hashish.
Deschenes says education is a big part of the Canna Cabana business model. He is clear that neither he nor his staff has any kind of medical background, but he says that if someone is seeking help with sleep, for example, he can offer some advice.
Deschenes only allows about a dozen people in the store at once and he said Monday that on opening day, at points the wait was as long as five hours.
“There were hundreds of people in line before we even opened on Saturday,” he said.
Even Monday afternoon a line snaked along the sidewalk and into the parking lot as would-be patrons waited patiently for admittance. Inside, Deschenes’ well-trained staff wandered the shop assisting customers and answering questions.
“I think the customer service we’re giving right now is going to bring everyone back to the store,” he said. “I want a one-on-one with my staff, so I’m not letting more than 13 people in here at a time, so my staff can get to them and answer their questions. No one is in a rush in here. Everyone wants to make sure they spend the time and answer all the questions.”
Anton Lucic, meanwhile, is still waiting for the province to issue his licence. Lucic will be operating a shop, Highlife, at the Silver Hills complex.
“I’m still waiting for the licence,” he said Monday. “The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is still doing its due diligence. I guess they’re still looking into stuff.”
But he said he hopes to open within the next few days. If he does not open his doors by April 30, he will have to pay a penalty fee of $25,000. He has already been billed $12,500 for failing to meet an early April deadline.
Despite the setbacks, Lucic said he remains patient. He said there are other licencees elsewhere in the province who are in the same situation.
He said he is “100 per cent” excited to open. Lucic has hired 42 part- and full-time staff who are also eager to begin working.
“I’m ready; the store is complete,” he said. “Everything is ready; I’m just awaiting their confirmation that they’ll be giving me a licence.”
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