What is a cannabis licence worth?

Published on March 19, 2021 by David Wylie

This is HDR Architecture's rendering of three towers in downtown Kelowna, on Leon Avenue and Water Street. A stone’s throw away is the future location of a Kiaro cannabis store. The company paid nearly $700,000 for the existing licence.

It’s only going to get harder to find good locations for cannabis stores, and you have to be a little bit visionary to find a primo place to plant your stake.

Seeing that future, Vancouver-based Kiaro Holdings has now closed a $695,000 deal to purchase Grasshopper Cannabis’ Kelowna assets in downtown Kelowna.

Kiaro CEO Daniel Petrov says there is an “unparalleled moat” around BC retail stores.

“As for defensibility, I continually speak to the unparalleled moat around BC retail stores, and Kelowna, BC, is no exception. To prove that point further, the province has struck out on two of its three efforts to open its own cannabis stores in Kelowna,” says Petrov in a statement.

In one of those cases, the City of Kelowna rejected a BC Cannabis Store location in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood due to “clustering.”

Provincially, the government caps companies at eight cannabis stores. Kiaro currently has five locations in BC, including its flagship store in Vancouver. The Kelowna store, located at the corner of Leon Avenue and Pandosy Street, would be its sixth.

They also operate two more stores in Saskatchewan.

Kiaro has yet to secure its provincial licence for its first Okanagan store, but says it hopes to be open this summer.

Looking to the future in downtown Kelowna

Leon Avenue has long been a troubled block. Businesses in the area have been moving out over the past few years because of a cluster of homeless shelters, and issues with crime and drug use.

However, there is a revitalization underway.

Kelowna council recently approved Water Street by the Park, a three-tower residential and commercial building that will be adjacent to the cannabis store’s location.

“Kiaro is thrilled to join Downtown Kelowna and we anticipate bringing a positive contribution to their shared vision of a thriving business community where people want to work, live and play,” says Petrov.

Meanwhile, a University of British Columbia campus is slated for construction nearby.

Kiaro says its Kelowna cannabis store “will integrate into the community and bring a wealth of vibrancy to the area.”

The company has further plans for expansion.