Bittersweet move for Vancouver’s Village Bloomery

Published on February 23, 2024 by David Wylie

Andrea Dobbs inside Village Bloomery Photo: Contributed
Andrea Dobbs started on the therapeutic side of cannabis and is now on the recreational side.

The Village Bloomery cannabis store is approaching a bittersweet moment in its nine-year history.

Their OG store near Vancouver’s Granville Island is moving.

Andrea Dobbs, who co-owns the Village Bloomery with her husband Jeremy Jacob, says it’s not a far move—just from the inner courtyard to a street-side unit within the same building—but it’s a sentimental change none the less. The couple opened the store in May 2015 after benefiting from the medicinal effects of cannabis and wanting to help others.

“If those walls could talk at the original location. They’re quite laden with experience and it’s bittersweet,” says Dobbs.

“I’m looking forward to the new space and an infusion of life.”

Dobbs first explored cannabis on the medical side, gravitating toward oils, topicals, and CBD.

“I was so empowered by that I wanted to open a shop. I thought wow, everywhere I go it just seems so flower-focused and it really doesn’t seem like a lot of options for people who don’t really know anything about cannabis and want to lean in a thoughtful, process-driven way,” she says.

“Because our medical ethos was ‘it’s got to be good to put in your body,’ I want to have flower that comes from people who care about how they grow it.”

So her ideal cannabis products use flower grown in living soil, using organic processes, hang-dried, cold-cured, and hand-trimmed.

“Good quality in is good quality out.”

Some of the top products at Village Bloomery

“I look for things that I carried pre-regulation. Oil drops were a big thing, so I look for as many drops as I can have,” she says, adding she also looks for capsules and topicals.

“Those are things I’m passionate about and know that people can benefit from.”

While there’s not a whole lot of selection currently, Dobbs says she has some favourites in the category, including Earthwolf Farms. “I think they do a beautiful oil. It’s flavourful.”

She is also a fan of LoFi’s full spectrum CBD oil.

Village Bloomery also carries Glacial Gold. “I appreciate it for what it is. I would like to see more full spectrum strain-specific offerings,” she says.

Dobbs says for flower she likes to bring BC craft cannabis into the store.

“That’s where my passion is and that’s what I want on the shelf,” she says.

“We opened up shop and then I fell in love with flower. I realized I felt like a farce in that I loved the tinctures, but how do you love the tinctures if you don’t love the flower?”

The 3.5-gram format is wavering, as customers move toward larger formats—especially ounces. Those who do pick up eighths are often looking for something on a budget or are splurging on something special.

“I’ve been able to realize that some of these value offerings are essential for people to get access,” she says.

“It’s the beginning of a conversation and if you believe that a $20 eighth is giving you something, that’s great. Then I want to have a conversation about how a $40-eighth might last you longer and give you more based on its qualities.”

Dobbs says people are also buying bigger pre-rolls and blunts, which surprised her.

“Blunts were not particularly a BC favourite; they come with an East Coast vibe from my experience,” she says.

Another shock for Dobbs: “I’m blown away by how popular beverages have become. I’m replenishing actively every week and they have a following.”

Some of the most popular are Orchard Chill’R by Mollo, the Mexican Agave, Lime, and Jalapeño drink by Señorita, and Rosewater Lemonade by HYTN.

Sweet Justice’s line of drinks are also a top choice.

For something in between beverages and oils, HYTN Nano Drops are a good option. “They’re so versatile and one product suits many tolerances.”

In the vapes category, Wildcard are particularly popular.

Dobbs says anything featuring minor cannabinoids has a market. She adds she is puzzled about why CBD edibles only come in bulk. Lots of people come in and want to buy a two pack of gummies, she says, but they don’t have an option.

Starting in wellness, embracing recreational

Dobbs says she associated cannabis with its wellness side, so the switch to recreational was overwhelming at times after helping so many people through their personal health journeys.

“I had grown up in BC, and had never really been interested in cannabis. My husband was a consumer mostly for medical applications. My brother was a member of the Compassion Club, suffering from arthritis and pain. My surroundings were people accessing cannabis for health reasons for the most part. The whole lens was always very much therapeutic.”

She didn’t use cannabis until later in life to help with perimenopause symptoms, starting with a bad edible experience and moving into tinctures.

Through her transition into smoking flower, Dobbs discovered that generally if she likes the smell she enjoys the effect. She also learned not to smoke a whole joint in one session and instead puts it out partway through.

“I’ve learned through the school of hard knocks how not to do things and I love sharing that information,” she says.

“I have really embraced cannabis for meditation, for somatic exercise, yoga, walking in in the forest. I am so, so grateful for good quality, often homegrown cannabis. I encourage people to try to grow their own because it’s magical.”

Village Bloomery also has a second Vancouver store in East Hastings.