By the time it finally opened its door on Monday morning, Central Cannabis had a line of roughly 100 people outside, waiting to buy pot from London’s first brick-and-mortar store.
Jason Geldholf — the first customer at London’s first cannabis store — is going to hang onto his $81.80 receipt.
“This is going to get hung on my wall. Gonna get it put in a frame and hung on a wall. It’s receipt #2, I’m assuming #1 was their test.”
Geldholf drove all the way from Goderich to be the first in line at Central Cannabis at Wonderland Road North and Oxford Street West.
Not far behind him was Tyler Coughlin, from London.
“I had actually been planning this for, ever since I heard it on the radio. I wrote it down on my calendar, I took the day off, I planned around it. I knew exactly what I was going to do today, where I was going to be, and what I was going to buy.”
The province planned to have 25 stores open across Ontario for April 1, but only 10 are ready to serve customers.
According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, a numbered company owns Tweed in London’s south end, while J London plans to open on Richmond Row — but those locations are still navigating the lengthy approval process.
Jon Conquergood is the CEO of Corner Cannabis, the consulting company that runs Central Cannabis. He admitted it was tough to bring everything together on time.
“Chris, the owner, wanted to be as careful and cautious as possible. He didn’t want to begin construction until he had his operator’s licence which we only received about three weeks ago,” he explained.
“It’s been a mad rush to finish and complete all the construction.”
The store is a brightly lit, open, minimal space where customers can smell what they’re buying from little sample canisters on the walls.
“I’ve been to other dispensaries but this is beautiful, they’ve done really well with the store. It looks nice, it’s respectable,” said Geldhof.
Conquergood added that the store is vastly different from head shops that residents may be familiar with.
“I think a lot of people have a lot of stigma around cannabis,” he said.
“I think once they open their minds and look a little more carefully as to what the product can do for them and what the people in the community of cannabis is really all about, I think they’ll perhaps broaden their horizon and be a little more open-minded about what it can provide for them.”