First Sylvan Lake pot shop to open Saturday

Valhalla Cannabis will open after eight months in limbo

After months of waiting, Sylvan Lake will soon have its first cannabis retail outlet.

Valhalla Cannabis is set to open Saturday, roughly eight months after marijuana was legalized in Canada for recreational use.

The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis agency released the names of 65 establishments on Oct. 17, 2018, and, according to owner John Larsen, Valhalla Cannabis was number 68 on the list.

“Then in January, when they released another 10 names, we waited for ours, but there were some things that had to be changed. We went from being number 68 on the list to number 138,” Larsen said.

The time spent in limbo was put to good use. Larsen and his sister Barb took the time to learn as much as they could about the product and travelled to other stores to see examples of how outlets have been set up.

Barb Larsen said it was a difficult time, not knowing when the AGLC would permit them to open their doors.

“We had hired staff last fall, but not knowing when we were going to open, most went on to find other employment,” she said.

“Luckily though, most, if not all, have agreed to come back at least in a part-time position.”

Barb Larsen says most people think of a dark, dank shop when they imagine a cannabis retailer. So, the two decided to flip the image on its head and make the space open, bright and inviting.

“We wanted it to feel more like a jewelry store,” she said.

Her brother came across a different way to showcase the product within the strict guidelines set by the AGLC. Valhalla Cannabis will have what the owners are calling a sensory table.

The table will showcase 15 of the best-selling products in the store in secure and sealed clear jars.

“I don’t like the idea of having to buy something sight unseen,” he said, explaining all cannabis products are sealed and cannot be opened until the customers get home.

“With the sensory table, you can at least have an idea of what the product looks and smells like.”

Sylvan Lake town council has approved five cannabis retail applications, four of which are still waiting for approval from the AGLC.

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