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A friendly guide on pot shops to hit – and miss – in the Big Smoke this summer
BUZZ Airy. Most user-friendly of Toronto’s legal pot shops.
COOL Emphasis on the consumer experience cannabis education sessions offered every Thursday helpful cue cards on display with info on strains decent selection of accessories for your smokables – the other places try too hard you can order using giant touch screen.
NOT COOL Website. You can subscribe to their newsletter but otherwise little information on what’s available in-store.
RECOMMENDED Tangerine Dream. Also currently offering 25 per cent off 7-gram packages of strains (while supplies last). Huh!
BUZZ Disorienting. Three narrow floors connected by stairs with displays in the centre of each makes for unfocused customer experience. Also can’t seem to shake the feeling you’re in what used to be a strip club (could just be me). But if you’re a return customer you can order at front before you even get inside the store, which is convenient but makes the place feel a bit assembly-line.
COOL The first of the city’s legal pot shops to open, it has toned down off-putting security presence in recent weeks cheeky advertising – “Come on in and say hi!” “Be our bud!”
NOT COOL Product push. First-time customers are assigned staff with iPads who are knowledgeable and polite enough but tend to follow you around the store accessibility issues. A ramp has recently been installed at front door, but that’s not going to help once you get inside as you need to climb stairs to each level.
RECOMMENDED Staff picks. Display case on second floor includes staff faves, which is difficult to keep up to date, one of them confides, because of the amount of product coming in.
BUZZ Chill. As close to 70s-era Yonge Street head shop feel as you can get for government-licensed dispensary.
COOL Clean layout gay-friendly, Barry Manilow-inspired branding place to recycle gawdawful government over-packaging.
NOT COOL The fact it’s right next door (shares its main entrance) to Popeye’s chicken outlet – which could be a cool thing if you’re really hungry.
RECOMMENDED White Russian. This joint was closed when we first happened by back in May – it was the last of Toronto’s pot shops to open. It opened last month after High Tide, the Alberta-based cannabis retailer, announced a partnership agreement with one of the five winners of Ontario’s cannabis retail license lottery. High marks for customer service also, better pricing than its closest competition up the street north of Bloor.
BUZZ Claustrophobic. Too cramped for comfort.
COOL Singing security guard.
NOT COOL She’s singing, “We have no sativa today…” Display cases were practically empty on a recent Tuesday evening. Customers report limited choice more often than not.
RECOMMENDED Yorkville proximity (it’s actually closer to Yonge), but not the most inviting place. It used to be the location of an illegal dispensary and still carries that dubious vibe.
BUZZ Boutique. If you’re expecting the Apple-like experience, you’ll be disappointed. This gigantic space which used to house HMV is only half open. The rest is under construction.
COOL Mood-themed displays to help you tailor your buzz to the mood you’re looking for – a high for every occasion!
NOT COOL Political messaging on boards throughout display shelves, which gets a bit overbearing by the time you’ve finished perusing the merchandise. Big Bud connections – the high-end cannabis outfit dedicated to “higher learning” was bought by Canopy, Canada’s largest Licensed Producer, last year for a cool $300 million, further consolidating corporate Canada’s attempts to corner the retail cannabis market.
RECOMMENDED Gadgets for first-timers you may want to turn on to the finer pleasures of cannabis.