By Mario Toneguzzi
Canadian cannabis lifestyle brand Tokyo Smoke will aggressively expand across Western Canada this fall with Calgary the first location in the company’s nationwide rollout.
The Toronto-based company will open at lease six new retail locations over the next two years in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Alan Gertner, founder and CEO of Tokyo Smoke, said the expansion is a significant step in the company’s quest to help shape the future of Canadian cannabis retail.
“We have this opportunity to help define the modern cannabis retail experience and we’re really in this incredible moment right now where Canada is about to become the first developed country in the world to have nationwide legal, adult-use cannabis,” said Gertner. “And as we continue on our journey, and we continue to see more and more countries around the world entertain that idea and moving towards that idea, we believe that somebody is going to define what modern cannabis is like.
“Somebody is going to be the Starbucks of cannabis and when I think about our rollout strategy and I think about our plans, I think about helping and being part of defining the modern cannabis retail experience.”
The western expansion is the first phase in the company’s plans to expand nationally. In late 2017, locations are also expected to open in Toronto near Queen and Broadview and in the city’s downtown core as well as one in downtown Hamilton.
It is also looking at expanding into the U.S. market this year.
Gertner said it was hard for him to give out a specific number of how many stores the company will open in the future.
“We think that there is a lot of potential,” he said.
Tokyo Smoke is a specialty coffee shop that sells Canadian-roasted, crafted coffee along with smoking paraphernalia which is high-end, beautifully-designed and often locally built. It also sells some clothing as well and a few books.
The first store was built in April 2015 and is located on Adelaide Street in Toronto. The company has two other stores in Toronto on College Street and a new one on Queen Street which just opened.
The Calgary store will open in November in the Beltline district.
Tokyo Smoke is partnering with Saskatchewan-based Leo’s Hospitality Management Group, in the Prairie expansion.
The new locations will be designed by DesignAgency, sharing a similar aesthetic to Tokyo Smoke's Queen Street flagship store, but customized with locally-tailored design that features works by local artists, said the company.
“The stores will have a stylish, approachable and modern aesthetic, featuring an interesting mix of materials, a monochromatic colour palette, beautiful lighting, and a few unexpected touches to infuse each space with individuality,” it said.
Matt Pinch, co-founder and president of Leo’s Group, said Tokyo Smoke is helping to shape the future of cannabis in the country.
*Photos by Kayla Rocca.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.