BRAUN: Too many pottery shops? You don’t see anything yet

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There are 11 pot shops around Kensington Market.

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13 other pottery shops line Yonge Street, between Bloor Street and Adelaide Street.

On Queen Street East, between Broadview and Logan Aves. – a large block – there are eight pottery shops.

And Queen Street West, with its 21 pottery stores between Niagara Street and University Avenue, could be the winner.

Not all of these stores are open yet, but they are all in the works and will become a reality.

So how much is too much?

And is that overkill, or can the cannabis market support them all?

According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) website, the goal is to have 1,000 approved stores in Ontario by the fall.

According to Statistics Canada, cannabis sales in Canada increased by almost 30% between May and September; at the end of 2020, legal sales finally caught up with black market transactions.

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And the stores keep opening. Residents of Toronto’s Junction neighborhood were dismayed to see a Starbucks store replaced with a pottery store last month – and it won’t be the last such exchange.

There are plenty of reasons to applaud or protest the way pottery shops are popping up like mushrooms in our beautiful city, but does it even make commercial sense?

“I think some people will be surprised to learn that in mature cannabis markets like Denver and Portland, cannabis retailers have outnumbered Starbucks by almost 2-1 for years,” says Matt Lamers, editor. international Daily Marijuana Business, the leading trade publication for the cannabis industry.

“There are a lot more cannabis stores in these cities than there are McDonald’s restaurants. Legal cannabis is big business, and most markets can expect a population-to-store ratio of around 10,000 to one.

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“The main caveat here is that the tighter the regulation, the less transactions will be directed to the legal market.”

Lamers knows some people question the number of pottery stores in Toronto, but he says it’s all part and parcel of the industry’s growing pains.

Some resistance is probably coming from people who didn’t want cannabis legalized in the first place.

But, says Lamers, these transactions have always taken place, “and it is safer to monitor the sale of this drug under the watchful eye of regulators than to force all transactions to occur in the illicit market, as they do. had been for decades. . “

If the pottery stores had opened under the former Liberal government’s proposal, they would be carefully spaced the same way as the LCBO stores, Lamers said. No one would complain about the consolidation of pottery stores in certain neighborhoods.

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But there could be a lot of complaints about supply and demand.

“The previous provincial government promised that Ontario would have about 150 government-run stores by the end of 2020, which was not even enough to meet the goal of directing cannabis transactions from the underground market to the regulated market. “

Instead, under the private model, we got 300 stores in the private sector in 2020 and around 800 now licensed to open.

“Ontario needs over 1,000 stores to challenge the illicit market,” says Lamers.

“Ontario also needs consumer fairs and on-farm stores – and craft cannabis businesses need financial incentives similar to those that craft brewers receive, but those are topics for another day. “

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With Toronto worried about clusters of pot stores or too many in general, Lamers says, consider the alternative. Mississauga, for example, is one of 70 municipalities that have decided to oppose any jar store, “and the store ban pushes all legal taxable transactions to neighboring towns, and both non-taxable and non-taxable transactions. regulated to the lawless Mississauga underground market ”.

So yes, some neighborhoods will have half a dozen or more cannabis stores, and yes, right now most of them are selling the same.

“Over time that will change and the stores will differentiate themselves, they will offer different experiences, unique products, just like any other industry. And just like in any other industry, some companies won’t and others will. “

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