High cannabis sales during the pandemic allows Calgary business to expand

Cannabis sales are up in Alberta, allowing for business expansion in Calgary.

Ryan Roch opened Lake City Cannabis in Chestermere in June 2019, and sales were good, but in April 2020, business exploded from good to great.

“We went from average sales that we were used to all the way to almost doubling those, day over day, which was wildly unusual. We just weren’t prepared for it. We had shortages very quickly,” said Roch.

Roch said a combination of things happened when the pandemic started. More people were staying in Chestermere and not driving to Calgary for work, and new customers started coming in looking for ways to relieve stress.

Read more: Alberta liquor, cannabis sales remain steady during coronavirus pandemic

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Judy Partridge-Stanford started taking CBD oil capsules last year to deal with stress and sleeping issues.

“At my age, I always had my nose stuck up about trying cannabis. I never thought I would ever take it but I’m certainly glad I have,” said Partridge-Stanford, who was at the grand opening of Roch’s second location in southwest Calgary on Saturday.

“It just helps me sleep and forget things that are going on in my life right now. I wake up in the morning, and I am clearheaded, and I’m fine.”

According to figures from Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, the sales of cannabis from April to December 2020 were higher than the entire 2019-20 fiscal year sales.

But part of that dramatic jump is because AGLC launched edible products in the fall of 2019, so sales in 2019-20 only have a partial year of edibles reflected in the stats, whereas 2020-21 will reflect a full year of all products in addition to market growth, according to AGLC spokesperson Heather Holmen.

Virginia Kersch isn’t surprised by those figures. She recently started taking capsules to help her sleep.

“There has been stress because of the pandemic, definitely. Just having to stay in your house all the time and not see family and friends, but taking the CBD, it’s really made a difference in my life,” Kersch said.

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“It really helps me with stress. I like to get a good sleep at night, and when I take it, it just relaxes me and I wake up, and I feel great. I prefer them to sleeping pills — not that I’ve taken them before — but the CBD is more natural. My husband takes it too, and it’s really helped him sleep, so through this pandemic, we’re not at each other‘s throat,” she said with a laugh.

Read more: Retail cannabis sales in Edmonton see growth despite ongoing illicit sales

The success of last year’s sales has allowed Roch to open a second location in Calgary this weekend. Sales are still above what they were pre-pandemic but he’s noticed things have levelled off somewhat this year.

“We have noticed some budgetary changes. We have noticed that people are a little bit tighter in terms of where they are spending and how they are spending,” Roch said.

Roch feels fortunate to be able to expand but said it’s been bittersweet to see his business flourish while others around him are suffering.

“Our location in Chestermere is right next to beautiful Dockside Bar and Grill. We have watched them shut down three times,” Roch said.

“We have seen the toll it has taken on the owners and staff. It’s not easy, so we feel very blessed that we’ve been able to benefit, and we feel very blessed we’ve been able to hire people at this time when people are struggling.”

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