Local pharmacies are transforming the cannabis buying experience


After recreational cannabis use became legal across Canada in October 2018, pharmacies popped up across the city. With most stores selling relatively similar products, local pharmacies had to find ways to differentiate themselves from larger corporate stores. They did this by making cannabis shopping an experience for consumers.

Ashley Newman, founder of Queen of Bud – which runs both retail stores and a range of cannabis products – entered the industry after CBD became one of the few remedies that helped her with the pain she suffered from endometriosis. In October 2018, she opened her first retail store in Calgary and was inspired by crystals and their importance in the design of the store. Since then she has opened a second location in Toronto. The atmosphere she created in her stores is an atmosphere of luxury shopping with velvet sofas, chandeliers and flower walls. Regardless of the luxury elements, Newman says she has made inclusion, acceptance, and community a core pillar of her business.

Queen of Bud

Using velvet couches, crystals, chandeliers and more, Ashley Newman created a one-of-a-kind cannabis shopping experience. PHOTOS: CHARLOTTE HOLMES

John Holt, co-owner of Superblend Cannabis, has two stores in town, Superblend Grain Exchange and Superblend Stop-N-Glow. Holt is preparing to open his third store, the design of which is inspired by an old alchemist’s shop. Holt is taking the lead in design at its locations and has transformed the cannabis shopping experience by renovating each store in a unique way. With interactive elements like a piano, seating and an old-school cigarette machine, Holt wants to turn the superblend locations into places where people feel they belong. His goal is to put a smile on the customer’s face, he says.

Super blend: Stop-N-Glow

Stop-N-Glow is located at 2510 Dartmouth Rd SE and has been completely renovated from an old roof building to a new one. ā€John Holt designed, created and operated almost every part of the store to take customers back to the 1970s. PHOTOS: CHARLOTTE HOLMES

Super blend: grain exchange

Superblend’s first location, located at 817 1 St SW, Calgary, in the old grain exchange building, is no different from Stop-N-Glow in providing customers with a more unique and luxurious cannabis shopping experience. PHOTOS: CHARLOTTE HOLMES