(Andrew McCormick was the first customer at Summit Cannabis, Friday. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)

Elk Valley’s first cannabis store opens its doors, serves first customer

Summit Cannabis will open Saturday morning at 10 a.m. for their first full day of business

Summit Cannabis Company, the first cannabis shop in the Elk Valley to open its doors to the public, served its first customer Friday afternoon.

With a grin, Andrew McCormick of Hosmer shook the hands of Summit Cannabis employees after purchasing several products from the store. He was excited to discover he was the first to legally purchase cannabis from a retail store in the Elk Valley. For him, this is something he has been waiting a long time to do.

“It’s great, it’s a long time coming,” he said after receiving his products.

From stress to anxiety, McCormick said the products will help him in a variety of ways.

(Andrew McCormick. Photo by Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)

(Photo by Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)

When customers walk into the store, located at 1161A 7th Avenue in Fernie, they will see interactive menu displays that show inventory in real time. They will be able to select product from sensory jars, which will allow the customer to examine and smell the product.

Summit currently offers flower, spray, oil and capsules. Edibles are not yet on the shelves, but Jones said this could happen come October.

Education will be available with regards to the licensed producer, a description of the product and the percentage level of THC or CBD.

“If you’re wanting information, we will have someone out on the floor that can help you select the strains from the flower bar or from the menus, and to help you with ancillary products like vaporizers, grinders, storage containers,” said Summit managing partner, Brian Jones.

If a customer already knows what they want, they can go directly to two interactive terminals set up in the corners of the room, examine available inventory, add their product of choice to their cart and purchase and pick it up at the counter.

Jones stressed that they are not an accessory store, adding that there is already a very good one located downtown Fernie. They will carry a few accessories, but Jones explained that their bread and butter is flower, oils, and soon-to-be edibles.

Jones sat back in his chair and let out a sigh of relief. Opening a cannabis shop, he explained, has been one of the hardest things he’s ever done.

“It has been a long time (coming), but we’re happy to be here, we’re happy to be the first ones open in the Elk Valley,” he said.

(Photo by Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)

The business has been around since April 2018 under the name Compass Cannabis, a clinic which acted as a liaison between patients, physicians and licensed producers. They recently announced that they switched from the franchise Starbuds to the private company, Summit Cannabis, of which there are two stores; one in Fernie and one in Revelstoke. They did so in order to streamline the process and ‘make it more efficient’ to get to the licensed stage.

Look back: Cannabis stores in Fernie get green light

Stick and Stone Cannabis, just down the highway from Summit Cannabis, also hopes to open their doors soon.

The same day that Summit opened its doors, Stick and Stone announced on Facebook that they had received their provincial licence to sell cannabis. Although there are still several unknowns, they explained that they are getting ‘very, very close’.

With over 800 strains to choose from, Jones said it was hard to choose their first order. He explained that they currently offer 36 strains, which will be refined and rotated over time. Most come from producers in B.C. such as Broken Coast Cannabis and Tantalus Labs.

“We were very careful when we did curate the menu to try to pick BC licenced producers for a decent chunk of it, so that we can support local businesses in B.C. as well,” said Jones.

“And local growers, because quite honestly that’s what this whole industry was built on,” he continued. “Was growers from… whether they were medical or recreational, those are the people that gave us the genetics we sell today.”

Jones explained that opening their shop has taken a lot of work, and there have been many hoops to jump through since they started the process to switch to retail almost one year ago.

“Honestly, the clerical part of it, and the application process was just one piece of the business and setting it up,” said Jones.

“The logistics of basically not being treated the same as other businesses, whether you’re a startup or not. For instance, not being able to complete a banking transaction because you don’t have a business banking account, it’s tough… not being able to have a PST number until you’ve been finally approved from the liquor corporation,” Jones explained.

Once they did get approved, he explained that many extra steps followed.

“And I guess this comes with any business or new industry like this, where you don’t really know. You’re in uncharted territory,” he said.

“It’s been tough, it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, like honestly,” Jones added.

Reflecting on their first sale, Jones said he hopes everyone coming into their store has a good first experience.

“That’s my goal, that’s all of our goals, to help push some of our knowledge to people who don’t know so much about cannabis, and to help them get a good experience from it,” he said.

Summit Cannabis will open tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 10 a.m. for their first full day of business.

(Brian Jones, Andrew McCormick, Joshua Short, Jeremy Labas. Photo by Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)

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