Hamilton cannabis stores adjusting operations in response to COVID-19

Hamilton, Ont., cannabis stores are among the local businesses trying to navigate a retail environment in the middle of a pandemic.

One of the city’s newest stores, Ancaster Joint, has only been open for about a month, and manager Kate MacLaggan said there was no way of knowing how COVID-19 would have an impact on them.

“We are newbies,” she laughed. “This wasn’t part of the ‘opening the new business’ plan.”

Ancaster Joint is one of four cannabis stores currently operating in Hamilton, along with Tokyo Smoke Rymal, Cabbage Brothers in Dundas, and Canna Cabana on Barton Street.

MacLaggan said their store has been especially busy, with customers seemingly engaging in ‘panic buying’ and stocking up on supplies.

“Folks sort of doing the similar stockpile that might be doing with other essential items, we’re seeing them come and do that here,” said MacLaggan.

“We’re seeing more first-timers. So folks who are kind of thinking that they’re about to be stranded in their home for goodness knows how long and perhaps this would be an interesting time for them to start with cannabis and see how it might have an effect at this time, when we’re all kind of peaked out, and feeling very anxious and overwhelmed.”

There has also been a high demand for non-smoking products like oils and capsules, which she said are “flying off the shelves.”

“I don’t know if they’re preparing for a worst-case scenario of not being able to inhale their cannabis, should they get sick.”

MacLaggan said they’ve made some adjustments to operations at the store, including keeping employees — who wear latex gloves — serving from behind the counter, shutting off self-serve iPads, and reducing store hours. They haven’t had to lower the limit on the number of customers allowed in the store at one time, but MacLaggan said that’s likely because of their location on the outskirts of the city.

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