Calgary Co-op gets ready to sell cannabis this fall

Calgary Co-op, known for its liquor, gasoline and fresh produce, will soon be adding a new product to its shelves: cannabis.

Co-operative grocery retailer looks to hire new managers, train staff

Calgary Co-op is entering the world of cannabis sales by opening 12 stores in the next year. (CBC)

Calgary Co-op, known for its liquor, gasoline and fresh produce, will soon be adding a new product to its shelves: cannabis.

"We won't have any samples available,"  cannabis senior director Jim Riege told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday.

The co-operative grocery chain will open 12 licensed cannabis sales shops around the city over the next year.

Some will be ready for the Oct. 17 legalization date but others are being built from the ground up. So far, most members and staff are enthusiastic about the foray into the new market, Riege said.

"Some definitely are excited about it coming to fruition and opening up on October 17," he said. "Others, of course, are a little bit not as in favour of that and ... that's to be expected based on the stigma around cannabis."

Co-op is hiring managers to run the cannabis dispensaries, though Riege said some current Co-op staff will move into new roles. All cannabis shop employees will be unionized, he said, and they'll be trained.

The goal, according to the job ad, is to offer "recreational consumers with connoisseur cannabis products, trade expertise, and affordable pricing."

The stores will have a floor space of 1,000 to 1,200 square feet and all products will be locked in cabinets.

They'll offer 300 or more products, from different cannabis strains to bongs and pipes. Fifteen cannabis types will be offered in so-called sniff jars.

"Is the smell right for you? Is that something that you want to try and enjoy," Riege said.

Listen to Jim Riege on the Co-op's cannabis plans:

Jim Riege, managing director of the cannabis division for Calgary Co-op, tells us about plans to open twelve cannabis stores. 5:51

Customers won't be able to touch the cannabis but will be able to hold and check out the paraphernalia. No snacks will be sold at the shops, per provincial regulations.

Cannabis sales will count toward membership equity and profit sharing.


With files from Susan Holzman and the Calgary Eyeopener.