Instead of a government-run storefront merchandising plan the new policy will rely on private enterprise to sell to what’s expected to be a huge marketplace.
The one store approach had been criticized in any case because it would have woefully underserved the local market, though more outlets would have been rolled out in later years.
Instead, the new government’s private model will see bricks and mortar outlets open April 1 instead.
Windsor and Essex County still doesn’t know how many stores will open locally though the new government will release details as it continues to formulate the private retail sales strategy.
Where does that leave the Liberal government’s Ontario Cannabis Store, overseen by the LCBO?
It still exists and is very much in the cannabis sales game, and it will still be serving the public when sales begin Oct. 17, only that it will operate the online sales website through which shoppers can place marijuana orders.
“The Ontario Cannabis Store welcomes the direction from the Ontario government to focus on launching our online retail store and begin establishing a wholesale distribution network to supply cannabis to legal private stores in Ontario once legislative requirements are put in place,” OCS president Patrick Ford says.
The new website will be run through Ottawa-based private retail portal Shopify.
“The site is complete and final testing is underway,” Ford said.
More details will be released soon, including about supply agreements and delivery methods.
What happens to any leases the OCS signed with local landlords for government-run physical stores that now will not be needed?
The OCS says these costs are “minimal” and that current leases “will be honoured and we are reassessing the plans for these locations.”
How about people hired to staff those locations?
Says the OCS, in response to questions from WON.com, “very few store-specific staff” had been hired and those that have are being reassigned “to new roles where their social responsibility and product knowledge training will be useful elsewhere in the organization, such as in online support.”