New cannabis store slated for Sudbury offers home delivery
Nadia Vattovaz is the chief financial officer for Fire&Flower Cannabis, a franchise that plans to open in Sudbury and North Bay. (Supplied)
SUDBURY -- Greater Sudbury could soon be home to two more cannabis stores, including one based in Western Canada that offers customers home delivery.
Officials with Fire & Flower Cannabis Co. say they hope to open their outlet at 1400 The Kingsway sometime in July.
But as with everything else in the world today, the COVID-19 pandemic is making the process more difficult.
"You know, it's interesting because … the construction part of it itself isn't too difficult," Nadia Vattovaz, the company's chief financial officer, said Wednesday.
"The government temporarily halted construction (but) once they started it up again, we were pretty quick to pick up the work on the Sudbury location. But you know, I think really it's going to be the onboarding of people that will be a little bit more challenging in this market."
Hiring the 10-15 staff, including store managers, is tough when you can't meet with people face-to-face, Vattovaz said.
"Although there are people that are looking for work, and we are a pretty attractive proposition for retail employees to come join us," she said. "So we're pretty confident that we're going to be able to get a great staff on board. (The key) is training people and bringing them up to speed and making sure that they meet our customer service requirements."
A second store – Happy Life -- has also applied for a license to open on The Kingsway in Sudbury. But Happy Life doesn't have a website, and no contact information was available on the province's website listing the applications.
Fire & Flower has almost two dozen locations, mostly in Alberta and Saskatchewan. They're in the process of opening 10 stores in Ontario, with sites in Ottawa and Kingston already open. North Bay is also on the list for a Fire & Flower store, and that location is under construction.
Vattovaz said they wanted to seize the opportunity of expanding into Ontario, choosing their initial locations carefully.
"We wanted to make sure that we were in markets that we felt we could really add value to the community, and that made sense for us as a retailer," she said. "Certainly Sudbury was one of those."
The Sudbury site will be about 3,200 square feet, which means in a post-COVID world, there will be space ensure customers can respect physical distancing rules.
One of the things that makes the company different, Vattovaz said, is their membership programs that build a more personal relationship with clients – and offers them home delivery for products.
"There are tight restrictions around that, but we do provide that service," she said. "Members (can exclusively access certain) events and promotions, as well as discounts, but a big benefit is really the ability to purchase your cannabis online and either pick it up curbside or have it delivered to you."
While aiming to open in July, the licensing and approvals process with the province is more difficult, since even arranging a site visit is a low priority during the pandemic, but a necessity to open.
The city already has two cannabis stores – Highlife on Marcus Drive and Canna Cabana on Long Lake Road.
Vattovaz said they're optimistic about the July opening, and they are starting the process of hiring in Sudbury. Anyone interested can contact them through their website.