Saskatoon cannabis shops seeing bigger sales with arrival of COVID-19
Some shops making changes in light of coronavirus
Cannabis store owners across Saskatoon say they are seeing a spike in sales as a result of COVID-19.
Shops say they're working to keep those purchasing pot in the city safe, as health officials have confirmed that the novel coronavirus is present in Saskatchewan, with two confirmed cases and 14 presumptive cases as of Wednesday.
At least one of the city's pot stores has closed its doors in light of the pandemic. Canopy Growth, which operates Tweed stores across the country, has temporarily shuttered all of its locations as of 5 p.m. on March 17. This includes the location on Second Avenue in Saskatoon.
Geoff Conn, who runs the Pot Shack in Saskatoon, said he has implemented changes and is set to launch a new delivery option at the end of the week.
"Everything starts with social consciousness and awareness," he said, adding they've been following all of the government's recommendations.
Conn said he is limiting the store to eight customers at a time and encouraging social distancing. He said no one has raised any issues so far around the new measures.
Foot traffic has remained consistent, Conn said, but people are making larger purchases on average.
"Most likely, they're grabbing a little extra so they don't have to make that extra trip," he said.
Prairie Records, which operates recreational cannabis shops in Saskatchewan and Alberta, has also made changes to its retail operations.
Adam Coates, the chief growth officer with Decibel Cannabis Company, which operates Prairie Records, said they company has seen a "slight increase" in both the number of customers and how much each one is buying. He said Prairie Records is encouraging people to shop online.
Coates said other changes include reducing store hours, removing high-traffic surfaces like display cases and introducing a cashless system.
"Really, we're just trying to remove and limit any sort of touch points," Coates said, noting things are being sanitized on a "minute-by-minute" basis.
Kiaro, which operates a cannabis store in Saskatoon and La Ronge, has removed the "bud wall" from its locations across Western Canada.
Eleanor Lynch, Kiaro's president of operations, said there are currently no plans to close stores, but noted things can "change quickly." She said store managers will be making the decisions about operating hours and staffing.
She said customers have expressed gratitude for stores still being open.
"I think they're feeling really connected to their communities," she said.
Ross Chubach, who has been working at Living Skies Cannabis since the day it opened, said people are purchasing more weed than usual.
"People are spending a little more time at home, which they should be, so they're stocking up a little bit," he said.
Chubach said everyone has been taking care to ensure high-traffic surfaces like door handles are sanitized and that best social distancing practices are followed.