Consumers still using illegal market, low on-line sales prompted expansion of cannabis outlets – NSLC

HALIFAX: Port Hawkesbury has been selected as one of 14 sites for a new Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) outlet selling cannabis and cannabis products.

Finance and Treasury Board Minister Karen Casey made the announcement on February 14.

“We have said all along that we will move slowly and safely and need to be socially responsible and we are ready to take the next step, said Casey. “We have recognized that on-line sales so far have not addressed areas of the province where there was a gap and it is apparent that new customers want the in-store experience. We feel that opening more stores is the most effective way to deal with the illicit market, protect our children and keep communities safe.”

NSLC’s director of communications, Jennifer Gray, told The Reporter Port Hawkesbury was chosen because there is no outlet between Sydney and Antigonish and on-line sales are below expectations.

“Right now, there is only one cannabis store in Cape Breton which was not convenient for our cannabis customers,” Gray explained. “We were hoping on-line sales would help serve our customers but sales in this channel have been significantly less than expected. Customers who are learning about cannabis products prefer the in-store experience where they can talk to an employee and find the right product for them. The 14 new stores were chosen to close gaps and make cannabis more accessible for customers across the province.”

Gray said Port Hawkesbury is mid-sized compared to others in the province. Although timelines can change, the NSLC expects to be open in the town before the end of the year.

“The NSLC also had to consider what stores could accommodate a cannabis store within their existing footprint,” she noted. “The cannabis store in Port Hawkesbury is expected to be 400 square feet and we hope to have it open in November.”

The province expects a request for proposals will be issued in April.

Recent NSLC research showed that one of the reasons customers are buying from the illicit market is because there is no cannabis store in their area.

“The research we are referring to was conducted by Narrative Research and was a combination of phone and on-line interviews,” Gray explained. “It was important for the NSLC to use this methodology to get a representation by county so we could use these insights to help inform our decisions.”

New cannabis stores will also be located in Annapolis Royal, Baddeck, Barrington Passage, Berwick, Elmsdale, Glace Bay, Liverpool, Mahone Bay, Bedford, Sydney Mines, Dartmouth, Tantallon, and Tatamagouche.

“We’re pleased to announce that we will more than double the number of cannabis stores we have across the province,” Greg Hughes, president and CEO, NSLC said. “It’s an important step in fulfilling our mandate to make legal cannabis accessible to adult Nova Scotians who wish to purchase it and critical to making an impact on the illicit market.”

The addition of 14 new outlets will result in a total of 26 NSLC cannabis stores across Nova Scotia.

The selected stores were based on their geographic location, space to accommodate a cannabis store and the ability to renovate the stores cost effectively.

Customers can also receive home delivery by ordering on-line through the NSLC cannabis Web site. A map of the locations with the new stores can be found at: https://novascotia.ca/news/photos/2020/02/14/.