The long wait for Central Alberta’s own cannabis retail store has come to an end.
The town of Stettler and the city of Red Deer might now rate “higher” among the region’s pot-smoking community.
The first Central Alberta recreational cannabis store will host its grand opening in Stettler on Wednesday – just one day before Red Deer welcomes its own cannabis customers at Green Town.
Fire & Flower, at 6610 50th Ave. in Stettler, had its soft opening late last week.
Mike Vioncek, Fire & Flower’s chief operating officer, said the soft opening gave the staff time to adjust to the systems and processes that are in place.
“And then we do the grand opening to alert everybody in the community that ‘hey, we’re here,’” said Vioncek on Tuesday.
Red Deer’s first recreational cannabis retailer, Green Town, located at 5111 49th St., will open its doors Thursday at 10 a.m.
Green Town owner Sam Katzman advises pot customers to come early. He is expecting “hundreds of people” Thursday.
Green Town’s inventory is expected to arrive Wednesday, Katzman said Tuesday.
He said a lot of hard work and effort went into opening the first cannabis retailer in Red Deer and the community’s support has helped.
“I think people from Red Deer area see places like Calgary and Edmonton have their retail stores, and they haven’t had one yet, and they want their own retail store. They don’t want to have to travel, so this is exciting for them.”
He said people call him and congratulate him, “people I don’t even know,” he said.
“It feels like a big accomplishment … I learned a lot and I’m going to learn even more,” he said, about the process of opening a retail cannabis store.
In Red Deer, there’s hope other recreational cannabis stores will follow. This includes a Fire & Flower Red Deer location and Clarity Cannabis.
Vioncek said Red Deer’s Fire & Flower location at 3119 49th Ave. will open by the end of November, once it receives its AGLC licence.
Clarity Cannabis owner Michael Forbes said he hopes his Red Deer store at 5511 50th Ave. will open next week.
Forbes said he did not have a date, adding the company is in the final stages, such as creating signs and waiting for inventory.
Forbes, who is a pharmacist, said the standards at his Clarity Red Deer store will be high.
The organization’s website shows Clarity Cannabis has various Alberta locations, including Cold Lake, High River and Medicine Hat.
Workers were giving final touches to the Clarity store Monday afternoon.
Red Deerians such as Lecia (Leesha) Nickoriuk, who are hoping to land jobs in the cannabis retail industry, have been waiting for stores to open in the city. The 22-year-old was one of the 12 candidates who were interviewed for a job at Clarity on Monday.
“I have (been waiting) and I know a lot of friends have been waiting,” said Nickoriuk.
The Red Deer resident said she would go to a retail cannabis store the first day it opens because she is curious to check one out.
“I do really want to see what the stores are like here.”
The human resources representatives at Clarity, who were conducting interviews at Best Western Plus Red Deer Inn & Suites, said interest in the cannabis retail market in Red Deer is high. The company received about 400 applicants, who applied online for jobs at Clarity.
This number was not part of the 12 who stopped by for interviews Monday. Zack Thomas was one of the dozen.
“It’s been a little over a month now (since cannabis legalization) … it sucks online; it’s overpriced to order – you have to pay a high shipping fee, so a lot of us are waiting for it,” said Thomas on Monday.
The 21-year-old said he tried to order online, but the shipping fee, which was more than $10, stopped him.
Both Clarity candidates said they see themselves in the industry because of the high growth potential.