First Okanagan cannabis store approved

Published on June 22, 2019 by David Wylie

David Wylie/okanaganz

The Okanagan is about to get its first legal cannabis store.

Spiritleaf in Vernon has been given the green light by the province to open as soon as they’re ready — becoming the 35th private store in BC to earn a provincial licence to sell cannabis.

The owners, Sarah Ballantyne and her husband Carson, expect the store to be open in early July.

“We are thrilled to not only be the first fully approved recreational cannabis retail store in Vernon but also the Okanagan, what an amazing adventure. I submitted our application as soon as the portal opened in August 2018 so it’s been a long time coming,” Sarah tells the oz.

We visited the store. It’s beautiful, bright and modern. At the moment, hats, shirts, buttons, postcards and other brand swag are on display behind glass.

“The next steps are receiving product from the distribution centre,” she says. “Then we will work hard to create a fantastic in-store experience for our customers.”

There are job openings for a manager, keyholder and concierge.

Sarah says the couple has been lucky to receive a lot of support along the way.

She says the City of Vernon was great to work with. On the provincial level, she worked with the province almost daily.

“It was also a slow process, but we were confident in our security screening and financial integrity so we stayed patient,” she says.

The couple knew opening a store was the right decision for them and the opportunity came at the right time.

Carson’s parents were a big help, giving pep talks and congratulatory texts after every milestone. His mom, Joanne, even painted the store.

“We are so grateful for their willingness to help with all of our projects,” says Sarah.

She says her landlords have also backed them along the way — and plan to be their first customers.

The Ballantynes opted to work with a franchise, which was a good decision for them.

“The team at Spiritleaf continues to impress us,” she says. “Their ability to come up with creative solutions at any moment is just so incredibly inspiring. We look forward to bringing all of their hard work and ideas to life in our store.”

Along with its Vernon location, Spiritleaf has Okanagan locations yet to open in Kelowna and Penticton. Nationally, the franchise has locations throughout BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

The store is located at 102-2500 53rd Ave., and it will be part of the national cannabis packaging recycling program.


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