Owner of 1 of 2 Calgary recreational pot stores expects $100K in sales on opening day
'It’s pandemonium. It’s an organized chaos,' Jeff Mooij says of getting ready to open doors on Oct. 17
In exactly one week, Canadians will be able to buy, sell, smoke and grow cannabis — legally.
According to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission, 17 pot shops will open across the province on Oct. 17, but only two are in Calgary and Jeff Mooij owns one of those.
He's the CEO of Four20 Premium Market and spoke to The Homestretch leading up to the big day.
This interview has been edited and paraphrased for clarity and length. You can listen to the complete interview here.
Q: Are you ready for Oct. 17?
A: I am getting a solid four hours of sleep a night right now. We will be ready, but it's going to be something else.
Q: How busy is it, getting ready for this day?
A: It's pandemonium. It's an organized chaos.
Checking all the boxes to get open that day, it's a struggle. There are only two in the entire city.
Q: What are you expecting, in terms of turnout?
A: Two is not enough for Calgary, that's obvious.
I am expecting it to be very, very busy. A lot of people want to be part of history. An opportunity to purchase cannabis for the first time ever legally in this country, it's a phenomenal time in history.
Q: Are you going to be able to manage the crowds?
A: Yes. We are prepared for it, there is no doubt about it.
We are working with police, with property managers, security companies. There will be some traffic flow but we are ready for it.
Q: What will be on your shelves that first day?
A: It's all locked up in the back, there is no cannabis on any shelf to see or look at. There will be sample jars for people to smell and look at and paraphernalia for the use of the product.
That's the only thing we are allowed to sell.
You can't sell a T-shirt unless you can roll it up and smoke it.
Q: How much product will you have?
A: It will be a fairly good variety starting off.
We will have well over 30 types of products and we are fully stocked.
We are well prepared for a large amount of volume for the next couple of days.
Q: How big is your store?
A: It's about 4,200 square feet.
Q: You also run a medicinal cannabis clinic in Calgary that has been open for a few years. How do the products compare?
A: Probably the only difference is the preference people may have for the type of product.
Cannabis is cannabis so you could use the same stuff medically that you would need recreationally. It's really about the use.
Q: How much are you going to sell on the first day?
A: I think we will do probably $100,000 that day in sales, at least.
It's going to be something else. You see it anywhere in the world that it is legalized. It is massive.
Q: There are reports showing the amount of legal supply is only going to cover 30 to 60 per cent of demand.
A: Probably. They are not incorrect.
But you can see this is starting off slowly. We are not starting off with 1,000 stores and there are provinces like Ontario that aren't doing anything until April.
I think by then we will be OK, but there is probably not enough product being grown in this country at this time, there is no doubt about it.
There are hundreds of licensed producers that are in the queue or are in the process, and eventually the product will meet the demand.
It took about three years for it to happen in Denver. I think it's going to take a year-and-a-half to two years here.
Q: Are you satisfied with how much product you were able to buy for store opening?
A: I was actually quite surprised at the selection, the number of licensed producers we can choose from, the array of products.
I think the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission did a great job there.
Q: When will your other stores be open?
A: We have 30 total leases but how many can we get open the following week? Probably a couple each week. It's going to be a slower process, for sure.
Q: How will competition affect what you do?
A: It's a pretty good first-mover advantage, for sure, but it's going to take some time before these stores open that it is really going to hurt us.
Q: What has this process been like compared to opening a medicinal marijuana operation in 2014?
A: It wasn't easy then, either.
I was the first one in Alberta to open something like that so it was kind of shocking.
The speed at which we legalized cannabis in this country is unprecedented. We are going to have growing pains. Let's realize this is baby steps. At every level of government, especially in the province, we have done a good job.
This is a tremendously difficult thing for a municipality and a province to take on and get it right.
Q: Will most of the people on the first day be locals or tourists? What do you expect?
A: I think it will be mostly locals. Literally, there is not another store until you get to Medicine Hat, so we've got not just the city of Calgary but the surrounding area.
I am expecting people camping out the night before and everything else.
We are planning for it today. Where are we going to put the people camping out, the lineup, where are we going to put the traffic?
There is a lot of stuff we didn't have to consider a couple of weeks ago that we have to look at now.
It's going to be fun.
FOUR420 Premium Market is located at D290-9737 Macleod Tr. S.W., and the second Calgary licenced retailer is Nova Cannabis at 252-10816 Macleod Tr. S.E.
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With files from The Homestretch.