Kamloops will get its first private cannabis store in four to six weeks.
Chris Lyth said he has approval in principle from the province to open The Shore Cannabiz Shop at 399 Tranquille Rd. on the North Shore, something his family recently celebrated due to the intensive and lengthy process to get into the newly legal cannabis industry.
Lyth said the provincial application process took six months, including some minor tweaks, and he began preparing six to eight months prior to that.
“In the beginning, the hardest part was finding a location because the bylaws were very restrictive of where we could have it, and then the availability of retail space in those zones was very limited,” Lyth said.
The City of Kamloops amended its zoning prior to cannabis legalization in October to allow cannabis stores to operate in locations similar to those of liquor stores. Demand for space was competitive and Lyth said some landlords were not open to the idea. He credited luck in securing a landlord.
“We got a bit of a horseshoe,” Lyth said.
That was only the first hurdle, however. When his application went before Kamloops city council, nearby dispensary owner Carl Anderson and dozens of his customers showed up in council chambers to oppose the application.
Anderson’s illegal dispensary across the street from Lyth’s proposed shop, had been operating for more than a decade, serving 6,000 members. Approval for Lyth’s application from council meant Anderson could not, without a rezoning application, open a legal shop in his location as it is less than 100 metres from Lyth’s store.
Council rubber-stamped Lyth’s application and the province went on to assess his background. It required documentation, transparency and plenty of time. Lyth said he and his wife had to justify every penny they ever made.
“It was very intense,” he said.
Lyth is now working to set up his store before inspection and opening. With everything seemingly now in place, The Shore Cannabis Shop will be the second cannabis store to open in Kamloops and the first to be operated by a private retailer.
The first store to open in Kamloops was the government-run BC Cannabis Store outlet in Sahali’s Columbia Place Shopping Centre. It opened on Oct. 17, the day cannabis was legalized in Canada.
Same products, but possibly a lower price
Because legal cannabis products are only available from licensed producers, those who visit Lyth’s store can expect similar inventory to that of the government store. However, Lyth said he will try to beat the government store prices.
“I have to buy it from the BC Cannabis Distribution [Branch], so the flexibility I have is I can’t sell it cheaper than they’re selling it to me, but I can play around with the price and I am definitely wishing to be price competitive to the government store,” he said. “I would encourage people to come and do price comparisons and find out.”
Lyth said stores are given more flexibility when it comes to accessories, but he won’t have a big selection. His store will include sniff jars and menu boards similarly to the government store, though he said his store will have a more relaxed feel and won’t be “fancy.”
“I’m different,” Lyth said. “We’re a mom and pop operation. We’re a family-run business.”