Lake Country’s second cannabis retail store is up and running, and it’s looking to boost the regulated market locally and beyond.
Dutch Love Cannabis opened its doors Wednesday (Nov. 18) in the Village Centre on Main Street.
Harrison Stoker, vice president of brand at Donnelly Group (Dutch Love’s parent company), said he’s excited to have a new retail store open just a stone’s throw from Kelowna, where Dutch Love became the city’s first regulated cannabis store last summer.
“We’ve got a lot of really good local producer relationships in the Okanagan,” Stoker said. “We’re especially excited to have another outlet to be able to service the Okanagan population, to effectively buy the cannabis that’s grown in their back yard.”
It’s the company’s 19th retail store in Canada and the sixth to crop up in B.C. As Lake Country council heard last month, the company is committed to working with other regulated stores to combat the illicit cannabis market.
That endeavour starts with modernizing the regulated market: Dutch Love has been lobbying the provincial government to equip the cannabis market with retail features like online shipping and delivery.
“Features which I think today, from a consumer perspective, we kind of take for granted,” Stoker said. “With Amazon and online e-commerce and the stuff that already exists, it’s crazy to think in 2020 you can’t have that same accessibility and convenience in cannabis retail.”
Dutch Love has said it will work with Lake Country Cannabis — the district’s other legal pot shop — to tackle the grey market.
“Our position is combating the illicit market shouldn’t necessarily be entirely incumbent upon the province. As a collective, regulated retail coalition we can really help out quite a bit if we’re less constrained by these prohibitions.”
The company is also helping online cannabis aggregators like Weedmaps and Leafly to legitimize their revenue streams and move away from grey-market products.
Dutch Love worked with Leafly through the legalization period to build a revenue model that doesn’t rely on illicit products. Stoker said Leafly has since expunged all illicit products from their website, and Weedmaps is on the same path.
“They’re now very actively starting to strip out illicit operations, which is great, and they’ve committed to us vocally that by the end of the year they will fully turn the corner and only be hosting regulated retail on their websites,” Stoker said.
There are relatively fewer grey-market options in the Lake Country area compared to Vancouver, where the company operates four stores. For those in Lake Country who frequent the so-called “Green Mile” along Westside Road, Stoker says the regulated store can offer services the grey market can’t.
“One thing that we can offer is safe, dependable, accurately labelled products that are regulated by Health Canada,” he said. “And I think we have a customer experience that is perhaps challenging for the illicit market to mirror.”
Dutch Love has also partnered with Lake Country Food Bank to donate 10 per cent of proceeds earned from the Lake Country store’s first month.