One week apart, the Waterloo Region receives its second and Kitchener’s first legal cannabis store — META Growth corp. On Feb. 28, the store opened its doors to weed lovers, lighting off an opening ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on 569 Fairway Road South, Kitchener.
“[META Growth Corp. is] very excited about it. I mean, for any of us in the retail game in the cannabis space, if you can be first to open up in a major city like [Kitchener], it’s a win for us and it’s a win for the customers,” Matt Ryan, VP Marketing at META Growth Corp. said.
The event saw a major turnout and the facility remained busy all day, Ryan said, with the location often hosting waiting lines when the event was at full capacity.
“We’ve got stickers we’re giving away and some promotional pricing on some accessories. But really, it’s about celebrating the fact that the store’s open and people can come buy legally here,” Ryan said.
META Growth Corp. encourages UW students of legal age to come visit the facility, offering resources such as friendly guides and echoing a student-friendly vibe, as Ryan puts it.
“Our people are super cool. [We] actually call them friendly guides because they’re going to help you through your cannabis journey if you need help figuring out what products you want if you don’t want any help, you just want to come in and buy your stuff and go quick, we can do that for you efficiently as well,” Ryan said.
While the big turnout does indicate a high demand for cannabis products in the KW region, Ryan says regulations were a major hurdle to cross before opening the store in Kitchener. These regulations include a lottery system hosted by the government of Ontario for cannabis stores seeking permission to open followed by various background checks and necessary paperwork.
“The building of the store itself needs to go through a bunch of approval. There needs to be site inspections before the store is actually finished. And then a final inspection before you open the doors and all these things just take time and you need to get it up to code and up to the regulations,” Ryan said.
META Growth Corp’s two locations, a Toronto based and recently opened Kitchener location, are owned and operated by separate Ontario Cannabis Lottery winners. Both locations utilize consulting services and branding licenses from META Growth Corp. through their respective service agreements.
“Securing our Cannabis Retail Operator Licence in Ontario is a necessary milestone for our expansion in Ontario,” Mark Goliger, CEO of META Growth Corp. said.
“We have secured urban and suburban prime real estate which are ready to build and are planned to open as soon as possible once the licensing approvals begin for the industry in April 2020. Having recently secured $21 million in gross financing through debt and equity, our roll out strategy is to open swiftly and at scale, leveraging our efficiencies in building and operating a current retail enterprise network of 35 locations across the country.”
A week prior to META Growth Corp’s Kitchener Cannabis store opening, a cannabis store called Tokyo Smoke opened their first location in Cambridge, becoming the first legal cannabis store to open in the Waterloo Region.
“We’ve had an incredibly warm welcome from the city and we’re really just excited to bring a safe and welcoming environment for cannabis to really help smash that stigma and improve access to consumers in the region,” Desiree Siford, Manager at Cambridge Tokyo Smoke, said to Cambridge Times.