As seen in stoner classic films like Half Baked and Clerks, cannabis and corner stores have been coming together for decades.
And now that partnership is becoming legitimate for the first time thanks to Fire & Flower (TSX: FAF) and Circle K.
The Edmonton-based cannabis retailer said Monday it’s opening two weed shops adjacent to Circle K locations in Alberta as part of a new pilot project between the two businesses.
The news comes almost one year after Circle K owner Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (TSX:ATD.B) made a $26 million strategic investment in Fire & Flower. At that time, the Quebec-based convenience store giant signalled the deal would help it eventually expand into the cannabis market.
The new project appears to be taking them one step closer.
Fire & Flower said the two stores will benefit from the high traffic of the Circle K locations while providing convenience to cannabis customers.
The two stores are located in Calgary and Grande Prairie and the companies will look to expand the pilot project to new locations in the future.
“As we continue to build our relationship with Alimentation Couche-Tard, Fire & Flower is very pleased to be embarking on this initiative together,” Fire & Flower CEO Trevor Fencott said in a statement.
The company said its digital ordering platform Hifyre will also add to the convenience of the arrangement. Fire & Flower has been using the Hifyre platform during the Covid-19 pandemic to provide click-and-collect, curbside pick-up sales methods, as well as home delivery in provinces that allow it.
Fire & Flower noted that the corners stores and cannabis stores will be completely separated due to federal and provincial regulations.
Experts say Canada should revise its strict marketing rules and retail regulations in order to attract more consumers and tourism dollars.
If Canada modeled its regulations closer to U.S. legal weed states like Nevada, cannabis stores could sell food, drinks and offer entertainment in a legal lounge like setting.
Las Vegas-based retailer Planet 13 (CSE: PLTH) has attracted tourists by adding a cafe, pizzeria, an event centre and a multi-level cannabis art museum to its massive store.
Fire & Flower said the Grande Prairie store will open today, and the Calgary location will open next week.
The company operates almost 50 stores in four provinces and one territory, with over 30 of those locations in Alberta.
While Alberta leads Canada with 489 stores open, there are signs of cannabis retail saturation in the province.
Fire & Flower said in April it implemented a restructuring plan that will see three stores in Alberta close in order to focus on locations with higher profit potential.
Alberta is the first province to see a store-per-person rate of one-per-10,000, similar to more mature legal markets like Colorado.
Fire & Flower said it would also focus on opening more stores in British Colombia and Ontario.
Late last month Ontario hit its 100th store opening milestone, in a province with a population of 14.5 million.
Top image via Fire & Flower