London

Pot shops could double in London if company gets licence

A Toronto-based company is aiming to double London's cannabis retail locations, starting with one shop this summer. 

Toronto-based Mihi Cannabis is hoping to set up 10 stores along the 401 corridor, including 4 in London

Mihi Cannabis wants to open 10 stores along the 401 corridor by the end of this year. (Submitted by Mihi Cannabis)

A Toronto-based company is aiming to double London's cannabis retail locations, starting with one store this summer. The only problem is that it needs a store licence to put its plan into action. 

Mihi Cannabis received its operating licence from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and, like many other aspiring retailers, will be applying for the retail operating licence on Monday. 

There's no guarantee it will get one, let alone multiple approvals for brick-and-mortar stores, yet the company says it wants to set up 10 stores along the 401 corridor by the end of this year. It ultimately wants 75 stores across the province. 

"We truly believe London is going to be one of our key clusters," said Steffen Schenk, the company's vice-president of guest experience. "It has a very large university population and it's a great sized city."

Ontario is removing the cap on the number of pot shops in the province and nixing some qualification requirements for would-be owners. It also said it will be issuing approximately 20 new cannabis store authorizations starting in April 2020.

Big plans

Currently, the city has three brick-and-mortar retail pot shops and one set to open this spring, but Schenk says Mihi Cannabis is confident the London market is big enough for four more shops.

The company, which has been investing in the cannabis market since 2018, is set to provide what Schenk describes as a unique experience to consumers. 

"We've designed educational areas within the store where customers will be able to smell terpenes and we'll also have workshop areas," he said. 

Schenk says 10 to 15-minute workshops will be held so that consumers can learn everything from how to roll a joint to how to take care of their bongs.   

"For us it's about creating a welcoming and relaxing environment where people can find solutions," he added. 

Schenk says the stores are set to look like "a mix between going to the spa and stepping into your living room after a long day of work." (Submitted by Mihi Cannabis)

While the plan is to have one store open in the city by the summer, the company can't guarantee a date for all store openings. 

"It really comes down to how quickly the AGCO will be issuing store licenses and that's totally out of our control," he said. 

Back in December, the province announced the AGCO will be granting licenses to successful applicants at a rate of about 20 per month. 

Schenk was unable to disclose the locations of the shops planned for London, but says the stores will be in supercentres and plazas close to grocery stores and LCBOs. 

"We did that because we truly believe in two or three years cannabis will be part of your weekly trip. You'll buy your groceries, your wine and your cannabis," he said. 

Other Mihi Cannabis stores are planned for Windsor, Ottawa, Toronto, Burlington, Kingston and Barrie.  

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