Nfld. & Labrador

Labrador's only cannabis store temporarily closes doors after supply runs dry

The owners of High North in Labrador City say it’s costing too much money to keep the store staffed without product on the shelf.

High North owners say multiple producers have left them waiting for orders

Brenda and Trevor Tobin stands in front of their new sign which was also a family effort. The name was thought up by Brenda's brother and designed by Trevor's wife. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Labrador's only licensed cannabis store has temporarily shut its doors after less than two weeks in business.

The owners of High North in Labrador City have not received a cannabis shipment in days, and they say it's costing too much money to keep the store staffed without product on the shelf.

"When it comes down to paying salaries and losing money, we just had to make a decision we felt was best for us.," said Brenda Tobin, who co-owns the store with her son, Trevor Tobin.

Like retailers all over the country, High North quickly found itself short on cannabis supply. Trevor Tobin said they only received a fraction of their first order and everything on hand sold in three hours.

Another order arrived a few days later, but again, the store sold out in just one hour.

"It's very frustrating but yet it's more of a big disappointment," he said.

"It's easier to close the doors than to keep saying 'sorry.'"

The Tobins said they are dealing with multiple cannabis suppliers and don't assign blame to any one company.

But they believe producers should have been better prepared for the demand.

"We've been told that there's probably going to be some bumps in the road, but this is more than bumps in the road, this is turning into a big pothole," Trevor Tobin said.

Big investment

The mother-son duo said they invested $100,000 into the store to buy things like security cameras, display cases and cannabis accessories.

Those accessories are still for sale, but the Tobins said customers aren't coming in while there's no cannabis — and the cost of paying staff was also adding up.

We're trying to reach a very large population with no product. So it's like having a gas station with no gas.-Trevor Tobin

"We're trying to think in our mind, what can we make this shop if it's not going to work?" Brenda Tobin said.

"We've got too much money invested into it to close the doors and leave it shut permanently."

Trevor Tobin said demand is not an issue. They've had customers drive from as far away as Happy Valley-Goose Bay, roughly 600 kilometres away, and they get hundreds of calls a day asking if the store is restocked.

"We're trying to reach a very large population with no product. So it's like having a gas station with no gas."

Indirect shipping

The store owners believe indirect shipping routes are also leading to slowdowns. They said their orders are routed from Toronto to Montreal, then St. John's, and sometimes Happy Valley-Goose Bay before hitting the Wabush Airport.

That creates several opportunities for packages to be left behind, something the Tobins said happened at least twice last week.

"I think something should be done to correct it and have it rerouted directly to here," Trevor Tobin said.

The owners are hopeful they'll receive another order on Monday, but even if they do, they won't reopen High North until they've stockpiled more inventory,

"It's not worth our while to open for that itty-bitty bit," Brenda Tobin said. "It's more or less wait for the next shipment and have enough that we can actually open."

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