Currently at 162 stores throughout Canada, High Tide’s innovative Canna Cabana retail chain appeals to cannabis enthusiasts and the canna-curious alike. And they just opened up a new location on December 23 at the Shops at Buffalo Run in Southwest Calgary, adding to their continuously growing portfolio of physical storefronts.
The first Canna Cabana retail location on the Tsuut’ina Nation, consumers can find recreational marijuana products and consumption accessories for adult use in Southwest Calgary. With its nearest competitor 2.5 kilometers away, the company expects this new store to bring in lots of revenue.
The retail power center serves an estimated 100,000 community members and area residents, making it the perfect place for High Tide to continue their Canna Cabana brand expansion. On describing the look of the Southwest Calgary location, Raj Grover, High Tide’s CEO, says the model features an “open and retail-friendly store layout.”
Canada’s Openness to Cannabis
Marijuana became legal in Canada for both recreational and medicinal purposes on October 17, 2018 when the federal Cannabis Act went into effect. This also made Canada the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to formally legalize the cultivation, possession, acquisition and consumption of cannabis and its by-products.
This timeline has allowed many marijuana dispensaries and brands to establish themselves and set down roots in certain communities — which is also why Canna Cabana now has 162 stores.
While cannabis use in the U.S. is most prevalent among young people aged 18 to 25, according to the National Library of Medicine, Grover states that the highest level of acceptance in Canada comes from those aged 55 and older.
“Reports also show that there has not been a corresponding increase in youth consumption,” Grover says. “What has significantly changed is consumers’ shift away from illicit market cannabis sources to legal, regulated suppliers. Those in other countries that are considering putting an end to cannabis prohibition can learn from Canada’s five years of experience.”
Spreading the Canna Cabana Word
Part of what helps Canna Cabana continue to grow is their unique membership model and loyalty program. With exclusive pricing, coupons and alerts about fresh buds, the Cabana Club and Elite programs offer perks to 1.2 million members, according to Grover.
An additional club membership perk includes being sent a free monthly copy of Altogether Magazine, a consumer-facing digital publication that Grover says is an extension of the Cabanalytics business data and insights platform. It gives marijuana users insights into all things cannabis, from the best-selling flower, edibles, vapes and concentrates to cutting-edge consumption accessories and cannabinoid products hitting the market.
“We also carry out unique activities throughout the year, like our 4/20 car giveaway, Save a Fortune event and Craft Week,” says Grover. “Lastly, we believe that earned media is king. We aggressively try to get our brand covered by broadcast, print and digital media by offering our thought leadership on relevant public policy and industry-related news stories.”
Despite a hypercompetitive market in Canada with over 4,000 legal cannabis stores now operating five years after legalization, according to Grover, the Canna Cabana brand stands out largely due to their differentiated and membership-based retail model. The chain generates approximately 9.5% of Canadian legal cannabis sales (outside of Quebec).
Challenges in the Canadian Cannabis Market
Similarly to the U.S., Grover states that different jurisdictions present different challenges in opening up a cannabis retail location. “In Canada, retail cannabis licensing is the purview of each individual province, so our regulatory team needs to stay on top of a plethora of ever-changing regulations across the country,” he says.
With the help of the company’s regulatory and real estate teams, it’s easier to navigate the site selection and approvals process in a timely manner.
As they continue to make their way through the regulatory markets, High Tide is constantly innovating to stay ahead of its competition. “The company is ramping up store growth in 2024, as we’ve already achieved our communicated milestone of free cash flow generation,” Grover says.
“We are also working on extending Cabana Club into a global cannabis community by unifying our customers as ELITE and Cabana Club members in Canada and internationally,” he continues.