Kevin Schmidt believes it’s really time that businesses like his are open in Canada.
His One Plant Stouffville business, located on 5779 Main Street, is the first cannabis retail store in York Region and also the first One Plant branded store in Canada.
A safe, legitimate place, he says, where pot users can get their products.
“There’s a lot of benefits to it,” said Schmidt, who officially opened the family business in early January. “There’s the pot you bought 20 years ago, (now) you’re coming in and you’re buying Health Canada approved products. They’ve gone through a QC (Quality Control) process with both the producer and the Ontario Cannabis Store, and then it’s coming to us.
“Coming to a safe, bright, clean secure store and buying those products. It’s not like it used to be. It’s certainly something that even a non-user could come in and just take a browse around and see what exists there.”
The local One Plant store is one of five locations, including Barrie and Ottawa, that opened this January in the province and is under the One Plant umbrella.
Schmidt’s company, Corner Grass Corp., was one of 42 cannabis retail lottery winners in Ontario selected by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) in the second allocation lottery held in August of 2019.
Corner Grass Corp. has entered into a management services agreement with One Plant Retail Corp., which will provide cannabis retail with know-how, management expertise and branding at the One Plant Stouffville location.
Schmidt says the small family-owned business is looking forward to being a responsible, positive member of the community and the neighbourhood.
“I like gambling was a small part of it, but it’s also there’s not many times you get the opportunity of creating something new or a new business,” Schmidt said the reason why he wanted to go into the cannabis business. “That’s kind of what attracted me to it. Wanting to be part of something new and unique in an industry, and I buy my Lotto 649 tickets every week.”
Having the whole family involved in the new business is something that warms Schmidt. While his son Ethan, the youngest of the group, was too young to be a shareholder by a mere couple of weeks at the time he submitted the lottery application, he’s been a big part of the opening of the store.
“He now has jumped right in,” Schmidt said of running the store. “He’s decided not to go back to college. He thinks this is the future for him and he’s going whole hog on it.”
Schmidt remembers looking around the store at one point after the official opening on Jan. 4th and seeing Ethan on the floor, his daughter, Meghan, on the cash till, his wife in the back handing out the cannabis and himself on identification.
“It was neat for all of them to be involved like that,” said Schmidt, who has decided to keep his regular day job. “I’ve created businesses, I’ve built businesses, I’ve sold businesses, my kids never really had that business interest and now they’ve got the bug.
“When Ethan does go back, he wants to focus more on the business part of school.”
He cherishes the opportunity to spend more time with Meghan.
“She’s in her late 20s, so it’s been a while since we’ve spent a pile of time together,” Schmidt explained. “It’s nice to have that, because I can trust things are going to get done.”
For Schmidt, local cannabis stores have been a long time. Some locations, like the Town of Milton, that first opted out have opted back in.
“”I think Canada has always had a liberal view of cannabis use,” he said.
“A lot of people came up and thanked us for opening and a lot of people came up and said it’s so great to see it in the area,” he added. “We’ve even had people come in and window shopped because they haven’t even been in a head shop before. They’re just coming in and seeing what it’s all about.
“A lot of people even commented how, at one stop, they can come and get their weed and their beer at the same time.” Conveniently, The Beer Store is also located at 5779 Main Street.
Customers can purchase seed dried cannabis flower, oils, oil capsules, pre-rolls and seeds. In a second wave of legalization, often referred to as Cannabis 2.0., the Ontario Cannabis Store also started releasing in mid-January new classes of cannabis products that include edibles (infused food and beverages), concentrates (hash, shatter, resins and vapes) and topicals (infused creams, lotions and soaps).
“I don’t know how well the drinks will do, but I certainly think the gummy bears (will do well),” Schmidt said. “I’m a reformed smoker and I don’t much like the smell of cigarette smoke anymore, so I consume differently. I think other people are like that. While there’s still the stigma, they don’t want to come home and reek of cannabis to their kids and stuff like that.
“You can vape and not have that odor, or for people that don’t like to smoke or put things in their lungs, you can eat those cookies or those gummies or even have a drink if that’s what floats your boat, and be able to consume it safely and be able to enjoy it.”
He believes the cannabis 2.0 products will be very popular.
“We even have the ones that are looking for hash and stuff like that,” he added. “That was the product that they grew up with and they want it. We don’t have the hash products yet, but they’re coming.”
As for his customer base, they come in various ages. Schmidt admits he was “really shocked” with the number of elderly people that partake.
“And some of them are partaking for different reasons, but I was shocked personally,” he said. “You would come in and see someone who would make a $600 purchase and that was not the person I pictured that would come in and make a $600 purchase.”
The cannabis industry, Schmidt says, is still in the days where the LCBO was when it first opened. When you had to fill out on a piece of paper what you wanted and they brought it to you. Schmidt is really looking forward to the day when you can bring the whole family in and just go and pick up what you want and take it right to the cashier.
“They’re opening the industry now, which should help the whole legalization and controlled access for people my age and provide safe products,” he said of the progress. “It’s really great to be part of the start.”
One Plant Stouffville is open seven days a week, with store hours Monday to Saturday being 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
Photo: Kevin Schmidt and his family officially opened One Plant Stouffville, the first cannabis retail store in York Region and also the first One Plant branded store in Canada.