As many jar stores in Sarnia as there are beer and liquor stores

Manager Michelle Rea, left, and supervisor Dorothy Conely of Bluewater Joint, say business has been stable as cannabis stores continue to pop up across Sarnia. Tara Jeffrey

Tara Jeffrey

Pot shopping in Sarnia these days has no shortage of options, from Cannabisery and Your Highness to Chill Cannabis.

“They’re everywhere,” said Michelle Rea, who just 10 months ago helped open Sarnia’s first legal recreational cannabis store, Bluewater Joint.

“After that, they started appearing everywhere. They’re like Tim Hortons now.

Sarnia has 11 cannabis retailers listed as “authorized to open” by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

The public notice period has ended for four other locations in the city and one is listed as “in progress”.

As a result, Sarnia now has as many legal cannabis stores as the LCBO and beer stores combined, and about as many pot stores as there are Tim Hortons outlets.

Half a dozen more are licensed to open in Lambton County.

In fact, with over 1,000 authorized retailers operating now, the average Ontarian is only about 5 kilometers from the nearest store, according to the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), a provincial crown corporation and the Ontario’s only legal recreational cannabis online retailer.

“Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, cannabis sales have increased with the number of physical stores across the province,” he noted in a recent report. “On average this quarter, each store sold 4,600 grams of product with sales of $ 342,000.”

But the growing expansion has even the agency’s acting president and CEO concerned about the oversaturated market.

“Unfortunately, this rapid growth is likely to lead to increased competition and a crowded market for some retailers, which could lead to market closures and resizing,” said David Lobo.

“Other retail stores may choose to participate in mergers and acquisitions to increase their size and scale, and possibly lower their operating costs.

“Basically, however, all retailers will be challenged to focus more on targeted consumer segments and differentiate themselves from others.”

At Bluewater Joint, Rae said being the first to walk out the door was an advantage.

“Word of mouth is big in Sarnia,” she said of the family-friendly location, which sells everything from dried flowers and pre-rolled joints to cannabis-infused chocolates and candies.

Rea said that while things have slowed down a bit, she’s not worried about losing business as more retail stores appear. The store at 940 Murphy Rd. Has a flow of loyal customers as well as new customers entering for the first time, she said.

“A lot of older women, now that they’re meeting again (for social outings)… they want to try something but don’t want to smoke,” Rea said, noting that popular edibles include sleep aids.

Then there are the regulars – students, factory workers and the elderly – who know the staff by name and are happy to come back to shop in-store, she said.

“We are happy to be part of this community. And we are still going strong.


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