Hobo dumped for Dutch Love

Published on August 13, 2020 by Jenny Neufeld

Earlier this week Hobo announced that they would be re-branding as Dutch Love Cannabis. This name change is a nod to the Netherlands where weed culture is thriving and normalized, drawing tourists to Amsterdam.

It is also an acknowledgement that maybe they did not get it right the first time.

The name Hobo was defended early on by vice-president of brand and culture at the Donnelly Group, Harrison Stoker who said it’s about “the verb to hobo.” Which he described as, “The idea of readily dropping your worldly possessions and travelling that was championed in the late 19th century when the railways were being developed in North America … We’ve all read a lot of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road and other books of people who are hobos.”

Jeff Donnelly, president and chief executive of the Donnelly Group, highlighted that the original inspiration for Hobo’s branding came from a magazine and a hotel in Denmark that shared the same name, “…we felt we had the same cultural values as some of those companies. We wanted to capitalize on the experience of cannabis… where you travel when you use it or where your mind wanders.”

But he has now admitted that “We were a bit tone deaf when we came up with the name.”

The term ‘hobo’ has negative connotations that community and housing advocates have said is offensive to the homeless. Which seemed especially insensitive when they opened up a shop near a women’s shelter in Toronto. “People have been empowered to speak up about what they believe in. Although we thought we really liked the culture of our brand, really it’s about our people,” Donnelly said.

There has been some interesting reaction to the Dutch Love re-brand. Many were surprised they got away with the name Hobo in the first place but not sure the change is any better. One individual suggested that now it sounds like a massage parlor.

The new name will first appear outside the two new Ontario stores that they are opening in Toronto’s Parkdale and Ottawa’s Centretown. With the all the current Hobo stores making the change in the next month, including both the Vancouver and Kelowna locations.