Roll back the calendar. Just a few years. Who would have predicted cannabis stores?
First, there was one, then a few, and now there will be many.
Add to the list the Cannabis Jacks brand. Its launch of three locations in the north – Timmins, North Bay, and Val Caron during the early weeks of May – increases their Ontario presence. Stores in Kingston, Barrie, Coburg, already serve their communities, while Sturgeon Falls will open in the fall.
“We are also excited to announce that we have at least four more locations scheduled to open in 2021,“ the company said in a release.
Cannabis Jacks is expanding all across Ontario as the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) approves locations to open. The recent openings are part of an overall branding and expansion strategy.
The local licensees are John Shelegey, Steve Beaudry and Tom Laronde. Together, they have more than 75 years of combined experience in the service industry. Cannabis retail was a natural expansion for them. They understand customer service. Says Shelegey: “We are in the people business. We will apply that skill set in this transition. It was time to renew our vision. Cannabis retail is this exciting, pioneering opportunity. We know Timmins, North Bay and Sudbury.
“Identifying which location was a perfect opportunity to serve the consumers of Val Caron, realtor Chris Tammi was huge a help in narrowing it to one of the properties in the Dalron portfolio. We are first to market and that’s important.”
The group said the timing has been perfect. Just go past Zorro’s restaurant. They are in the end unit.
“It is so well positioned for the coming home traffic,” Shelegey says.
Parking and accessibility are also important parts of the convenience for the customer.
“Regulations restrict entry to adults but our demographic is so broad and includes many seniors. In the short time we have been open, we are seeing relationships build and customers revisit.”
Shelegey stresses the importance of a local connection: “Steve and I are lifelong Sudbury residents and our third partner, Tom, has lived in North Bay all his life. We have a long entrepreneurial history in the food business – we are long-time Subway/Freshii franchisees – and are excited to bring the Cannabis Jacks brand to the north.”
With more than 30 locations planned across Ontario in the future, Cannabis Jacks is looking forward to becoming part of many communities. The flagship location is in Sault Ste. Marie.
Local licensees are an important part of the Cannabis Jacks expansion plans. Michael Birch, founder and CEO, said he is proud of the growth of the brand.
“If COVID has taught us anything, local is so important. There are a lot of national cannabis retailers that don’t understand the local markets, are not a part of the community and don’t support the communities in which they operate. Cannabis Jacks encourages the local licensees to support local causes and will match any contributions made.
“We have created a fresh perspective to retail cannabis where the guest experience is paramount, allowing for access to quality cannabis and accessories,” Birch said, adding: “We are always looking for great licensed partners and investors across Canada who have a shared vision of normalizing the cannabis retail experience.”
Shelegey says he and his friends liked what Birch was offering.
“We saw a real opportunity to partner with a great brand like Cannabis Jacks. The low-cost licensed retail model is simple and efficient while providing a fantastic guest experience. Our brand will resonate with customers. It is a tested and proven model.
“I did a sweeping tour throughout Ottawa, eastern and southern Ontario to understand what works and what doesn’t. I visited as many dispensaries as I could. I needed to get educated.
“Cannabis Jacks’ customer journey is easy to get. There is a curated offering of products. We are on the floor (not behind a counter) engaging with clients.”
Products include cannabis flower, vapes, pre-rolls, drinks, edibles, capsules, concentrates, topicals and accessories.
“Cannabis Jacks is really excited by the Cannabis 2.0 products, these include drinks and edibles,” the company said.
Education is one of the pillars at Cannabis Jacks. Jacks U has been created to help educate both new and well-travelled guests on the different products available.
“Our cannabis specialists will provide product knowledge to help the guests make their purchase decisions,“ Birch says. ”The guest experience is paramount. Cannabis Jacks stores are simple and elegant with all product information digitized so that guests can make informed decisions and have an enjoyable shopping experience.
“Once in-store shopping is allowed by the province on June 4, guests will be able to get the full Cannabis Jacks experience.”
As for the Cannabis Jacks name, Birch responds: “Who doesn’t like to ‘kick back with their ol’ buddy Jack.’ Cannabis Jacks … It’s always a great day”
Northern Ontario’s fastest-growing cannabis retail store chain has locations at:
3020 Highway 69 North, Val Caron
1881 Cassells St., North Bay
1869 Riverside Dr., Timmins
To learn more go to: www.cannabisjacks.ca/about-us
Val Caron, North Bay and Timmins have had soft openings under the province’s COVID guidelines. They are currently offering click and collect service.
Visit www.cannabisjacks.ca or call 705-222-5255.
Open daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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