Q&A with Sarah Ballantyne of Spiritleaf in Vernon
Published on June 24, 2022 by oz. staff
Get to know who’s who in the cannabis space. In a series of profiles, we’ll shine a spotlight on some of those in the community. Meet Sarah Ballantyne, who owns Spiritleaf in Vernon.
What drew you to the cannabis industry?
My husband Carson and I were always interested in cannabis, consuming recreationally for many many years. When legalization turned into reality, we knew we wanted to be involved. We took the opportunity to change our whole life when cannabis became legal, quitting our jobs, moving to the Okanagan, building a business from scratch in a brand-new industry and successfully obtaining the first licence in the Okanagan. Now we are addicted to the weather and the activities around here. Going to work isn’t so bad!
What do you enjoy most about the cannabis industry?
What I enjoy most about the industry is watching our customers explore new products as they become available. I want everyone to feel comfortable shopping here and confident in what they are buying. Seeing customers come back with smiles on their faces tells me this industry will be successful and it’s just the beginning.
What cannabis products do you most enjoy?
I’m not one to say no, I’ll try anything but my favourite thing to do is layer cannabis products together. A blunt and a root beer, a bath bomb and a CBG gummy, a dab and a bag of chips. Go ahead get creative with your pairings!
What are you most proud of?
On July 1, 2022, we will be celebrating our third anniversary! As we head into year four I’m incredibly proud to be part of this growing industry. As a retailer, we have the ability to influence the industry and I’m proud to have formed some great relationships with LPs, reps, media contacts and government officials. Having great relationships with LP representatives gives us the ability to provide useful feedback regarding product quality and formats. We look forward to expanding these relationships once direct sales comes online in the fall.
What makes your store unique?
Here at Spiritleaf Vernon we focus 100% on customer service. This approach has proved to be successful with both customer and staff retention. As a small business owner those are the only things that matter. Product availability will fluctuate, price compression is inevitable. The motto of this industry is “start low, go slow” and I simply applied this to my business model as well. I focus on local/BC bud, bringing in items from companies with a good reputation, unique/sustainable/organic growing methods, and values that align with ours.
What are some of the most popular products at your store?
Infused pre-rolls are really taking off. The General Admission Honeydew Boba and Peach Ringz are No. 1. These potent doobies are whole flower, infused with distillate then rolled in kief. Seems like I’m not the only who likes to layer products haha.
Is there a charitable cause that you support?
In the last three years of operation, we have donated or volunteered with The Salvation Army Kettle Program, BCSPCA, Royal Canadian Legion, VJH Radithon, Castanet/Total Restoration Food Drive, The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, Vernon Pickle Ball Association, Funtastic and our delivery service has also taken on a life of its own, assisting those in the community that cannot get to a store.
Do you have a favourite news site, blog, podcast, or other media that people should check out?
Well, obviously the oz.! David does an amazing job with local content. I look forward to his email blasts, especially the Dad Jokes or Shower Thoughts section.
How can people connect with you?
I’m in the store all the time; come see me. We are open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., 365 days a year, or you can find me on Instagram @thevernonplantlover. Do not attempt to email me; this is a weak point for me and I have over 13,000 unread emails in my deleted items!