Why Ontario marijuana retail operator Hashish Xpress is betting on tiny shops

The exterior of a Cannabis Xpress store

So far as Chris Jones is anxious, typically it’s a must to go small to make it massive.

The veteran marijuana retail operator is wagering that small, convenience-style places are the important thing to sustainable retail profitability in Ontario, the most important leisure hashish market in Canada.

Jones’ newest marijuana retailer, Hashish Xpress, plans to open its first retailer within the Toronto suburb of Brampton in early April.

The house may have a store flooring measuring solely 80 sq. ft – roughly the dimensions of two king mattresses laid side-by-side – and not more than two workers.

“The idea for this new spherical of shops is simply conserving the places very, very small and environment friendly,” stated Jones, president of Hashish Xpress and founder and former president of Star Buds Hashish Co. in Ontario.

Moreover, Jones’ marketing strategy entails:

  • Preliminary openings in small and medium-sized Ontario markets, avoiding clusters of competing shops in city cores.
  • A restricted stock of hashish merchandise at aggressive costs.
  • Maintaining preliminary build-out prices and working prices low.

“That’s actually the important thing to my enterprise mannequin, is simply managing prices,” Jones stated.

“If I can try this, then, in flip, I can nonetheless be worthwhile whereas undercutting the entire competitor shops.”

Small, handy, low-cost shops

Jones’ plan for Hashish Xpress entails small, handy places, initially concentrating on smaller native markets with much less competitors from present shops.

In his view, many present hashish shops in Ontario are just too giant.

That may have made sense again when Ontario was issuing a restricted variety of retailer licenses by lottery, he stated, “however I believe folks didn’t actually adapt to how the market modified over time.”

A minimum of 545 hashish shops are at the moment licensed for enterprise in Ontario, though Jones estimates that maybe 60% of these shops are literally open. The province is now licensing as many as 120 new shops monthly.

With a lot competitors, Jones believes it’s unlikely a given retailer can entice sufficient clients to justify a big retail footprint.

Together with the 80-square-foot store flooring for purchasers, the inaugural Hashish XPress Brampton location measures solely 353 sq. ft in complete.

That’s far smaller than competing shops, in response to Robert Stepak, a Colliers actual property dealer who makes a speciality of Ontario hashish actual property.

“Typically talking, the overwhelming majority of hashish leases on the market proper now are in all probability within the vary of anyplace from 1,200 to 1,500 sq. ft,” Stepak stated.

The exterior of a Cannabis Xpress store

The outside of the 353-square-foot Hashish Xpress location in Brampton, Ontario. (Photograph courtesy of Hashish Xpress)


Jones stated the overall price of the Brampton retailer was lower than 50,000 Canadian ($40,000), excepting the preliminary stock buy.

Such a small retailer would require just one or two workers working at a time, thus lowering labor prices.

“A few of these persons are simply spending 1,000,000 to open up this actually fancy retailer, and we’re all simply promoting the identical merchandise,” Jones stated, referring to Ontario’s monopoly hashish provider, the government-owned Ontario Hashish Retailer.

“If somebody spent 1,000,000 on a retailer, and I open up a retailer proper beside them for CA$50,000, and I take a look at their menu, and I inventory the very same merchandise as them, and I’ve two folks working as a substitute of 10 within the retailer beside me, who’s really going to be extra worthwhile?”

Hashish Xpress menus will function 50 core stock-keeping models, plus 5 or 10 extra SKUs “tailor-made to the native market,” which Jones believes will enhance effectivity by rushing up buyer throughput.

A second location, deliberate for Uxbridge, Ontario, will measure 800 sq. ft in complete with a store flooring of about 350 sq. ft.

Jones goals to open a minimum of 5 Hashish Xpress places in Ontario by the top of 2021.

Ontario’s retail actual property market

Jones stated month-to-month lease and utilities for the Brampton Hashish Xpress retailer might be lower than CA$1,400 monthly, together with taxes, or lower than CA$four per sq. foot.

The 353-square-foot location is unusually low cost.

Actual property dealer Stepak stated a typical lease for a marijuana retailer in a strip plaza outdoors of main Ontario city cores may cost a little a minimum of CA$35 per sq. foot, relying on the situation and different components.

When the Ontario market was youthful and licenses had been extra restricted, Stepak stated, typical hashish retailers had been available in the market for bigger shops starting from 2,000 to three,000 sq. ft.

“After the lottery, after COVID, the mannequin shifted the place everybody determined to go slightly bit smaller – they realized they didn’t want the massive house, they had been producing the identical income, they usually may go slightly bit smaller,” Stepak stated.

The smallest Ontario marijuana retailer Stepak has seen measured roughly 500 sq. ft; the most important was about 7,500 sq. ft.

A 12 months or two in the past, Ontario hashish retailers had been paying premiums for leases and “providing landlords basically no matter they wished,” Stepak stated.

That observe isn’t sustainable, he added.

“As you’ve in all probability seen, various hashish firms have already gone below as a result of they couldn’t maintain themselves with paying that premium,” he stated.

“That is nonetheless retail on the finish of the day – it’s nonetheless hyper-competitive. So it’s essential have your margins set accordingly, and it’s essential make it possible for your danger is mitigated as a lot as doable.”

Classes from retail expertise

Throughout his time with Star Buds in Ontario, Jones labored within the shops, the place he stated he discovered necessary classes about what hashish customers need.

In Jones’ expertise, many purchasers are nonetheless procuring primarily based on a easy standards: the very best THC content material for the bottom value.

“For probably the most half, folks don’t care about manufacturers, they usually simply need to get worth for his or her cash … after which they only need to get in and get out.”

Jones plans to implement a value assure to beat costs from close by retailers.

“I do know I’m not simply going to beat opponents on comfort solely,” he stated, “it must be a bunch of things put in.

“But when I’m handy, I’ve what you need and I’m noticeably cheaper, then the place would you store?”

Jones expects that many Ontario marijuana shops will battle within the months to come back and he’s ready for a quantity to exit of enterprise earlier than doubtlessly bringing Hashish Xpress to bigger city markets comparable to Toronto.

“I believe there’s going to be a whole lot of shops which are going to be up on the market within the subsequent six to eight months,” he stated, “and lots of people which are simply going to get out of this enterprise who thought they had been going to get wealthy and simply realized how difficult it’s to achieve success.”

Solomon Israel might be reached at [email protected].

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