With marijuana legalization slow-burning on the horizon, Canadian entrepreneurs are racing to lay hands on whatever part of the retail pie they can.
Retail design is part of this looming revised reality.
Pot stores, legit though they might be, are hitting the scene at a significant disadvantage. After all, their head-shop predecessors have established a sketchy reputation for purveyors of such dubious pleasures. These are the seedy, dark dens of iniquity—populated by sketchy characters and staffed by cut-from-the-same-cloth clerks—a mother hustles her child across the street to avoid.
Though there’s still lots of haze around what legalization will look like in this country, there’s no doubt that the looming legislation offers a fresh opportunity for those involved in this trade to reinvent themselves, and those in on the ground floor know it. This next generation of pot-dispensing retail outlets can set the bar high from the start and the retail sector’s buzzing with ideas on how to do it.
- Sidestep psychedelic posters and reggae music in pursuit of a more professional image. Nobody wants a store to tell them who they ought to be.
- Don’t eschew the traditional head-shop look so fiercely that you end up like a clinical drug counter—that’s just as unappealing, particularly to the older population looking to replace pharmaceuticals and opioids with something natural.
- Include a clean, cozy consultation area that, ideally, says consumer research conducted by Toronto-based interior design company Figure3, looks like a kitchen.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of featuring an assurance of safety in the design of the space. That means lots of glass and an open view in from the street.
In January, the first-ever business-only national trade show devoted to the marijuana retail and dispensary business will take place in Oregon. The “RAD Expo,” whose booths will be populated by retail design firms, fixture manufacturers and lighting companies, will look to offer pioneers of this retail arm some guidance.