Canaba, P.A.’s second cannabis store, opens

David Batten, left, and Shaun Dunphy of Canaba pose for a photo inside thier store on January 24, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Prince Albert’s second cannabis retail store is now open.

Canaba opened quietly last Friday, flipping on the neon ‘open’ sign in the front window and welcoming customers into its new space.

It’s still early for the retailer — the inside consists of a simple counter displaying some product containers, a few pipes, vaporizes and glassware — but one of the store’s owners is pleased with how far they’ve managed to come in such a short period of time.

“We worked on a pretty tight timeframe from when we had our development permit approved to store open,” said Shaun Dunphy.

“We’re very happy to be open at this point. There’s a lot to do but we’re happy with the way it turned out, and being able to open January 18, when at one point it was looking like it would be a lot later than that.”

Dunphy and his team had a ton of work to do. Their location, 3332 Second Avenue West, used to be a furniture store. It had a small entryway, and then a warehouse behind it. All the walls, and the secure storage area, essentially al the infrastructure, had to be built from scratch.

“There are still a lot more aesthetic details we are going to be putting in at the front of the store where the customers will be coming in, but we’re very happy with from what it was to what it is now.”

One aesthetic element, the wood slat wall behind the cash registers, gives customers a taste of what’s to come.

“With our name and our branding, we’re trying to go with a lake vibe, really accentuate the northern parts of Saskatchewan. It’s beautiful up here.”

Dunphy said the store will try to capture that with a forest theme, as well as a modern spot for more accessories and glassware traditionally associated with the cannabis industry.

‘The idea is a relaxed lake vibe. You can come in, get your product and go to do what you’re going to do.”

Canaba is hoping to be very competitive when it comes to selection and price. Their flower and oil menu has 24 strains on it. Dried product is sold in packages of 1, 3.5, 7 and 15 grams or a pre-roll pack, depending on the strain, with oil coming in 15 and 30 ml options. Prices range from the $8.25 to $14 range per gram before taxes.

The prices are a point of pride for Dunphy.

“We’ve already done what we believe is one of the best pricing strategies in Saskatchewan for our product,” he said.

“Absolutely there are peaks and valleys when it comes to that, everything isn’t exactly as we want it to be, but we’re doing the best we can.”

One of the concerns of cannabis legalization was whether prices would be low enough to convince enough people to move away from the black market. Media reports have painted prices in Saskatchewan as among the highest in the country, with some strains at some stores selling for as much as $18.99 per gram.

Jim Southam, owner of Prairie Cannabis, the other retail store in P.A., told the Herald during his grand opening that he was hoping to get his prices down and increase selection as more producers come online.

Dunphy shared similar sentiments.

“The problem is it takes a few months for them to be actually able to sell product,” he said.

“Once competition with producers grows and supply increases, we’re going to be able to reflect that in our pricing.”

So far, Dunphy said feedback has been good. The store has done little advertising, relying on word-of-mouth from people stopping by who see the ‘open’ sign on.

“Far more people came by than expected,” he said.

“The first couple of days they just saw the sign on and walked in the door, and there was a lot.”

Dunphy is also pleased that he was able to open a store in Prince Albert. He’s travelled through the city to visit Emma Lake, Waskesiu and Candle Lake, and has friends who live in the area.

Besides working on his store, he’s also working on spending a little money on another local establishment.

‘We’re trying to get Raiders season tickets right now so we can go watch the best team in Canada,” he said, laughing.

“I love the golf course. (Prince Albert) is a great place to be. I love the trees, I love the river. We were thrilled to be in Prince Albert.”