An association of cannabis retailers has written to the District of Squamish council to discourage government cannabis stores in town.
In a letter to the council, Jaclynn Pehota, the executive director of Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers, said the factors that led to success and failure of small businesses are largely absent in the case of cannabis sale in BC.
Pehota said cannabis retailers were currently unable to differentiate themselves in a meaningful way from one another based on product diversity, pricing, or marketing, as the cannabis products on sale were dictated by the province.
“Currently, the variety of products available for sale in the regulated system means that private cannabis shops are carrying a nearly identical selection of products in their stores,” she said.
The provincial stores, she said, could operate even with low margins.
“While the province has unlimited access to funding due to their status as taxpayer-funded to maintain stores that are unprofitable, small businesses don’t have the same resources,” Pehota wrote.
The unregulated or “black market” cannabis stores further weakened the margins and cannabis stores also had limited marketing options to them as marketing the products was restricted by federal rules.
“Cannabis retailers find it extremely difficult to distinguish themselves at present. The public store represents a race to the bottom for private retailers rather than a meaningful exercise in customer attraction and retention,” she said.
Aimee Mussett, the owner of the local Sky High Cannabis, said she felt it was important for the community to know that the government stores would open on the taxpayers’ dime.
“It is spending tax dollars to open stores with the ability to run at a near loss to compete with citizens who risked their own capital for a store,” she said.