3 Things to Consider Before Building a Retail Cannabis Facility

Ontario is gradually opening up its opportunities for selling cannabis, which means the retail cannabis landscape will be getting much more competitive in the next few years. As customers get more choice in retail dispensaries, owners need a sharper focus on making their stores attractive and user-friendly to keep traffic flowing in their doors, while adhering to regulations that make certain design elements mandatory.

Rules that govern the storage and display of your wares, and rules about the location of your cannabis shop will be top consideration in its design, but that won’t keep you from having a bit of fun with the look and feel of your new cannabis facility.

Where to set up

Like any other business, cannabis dispensaries first have to consider where they’ll set up shop. You’ll want an area with easy access to foot traffic and parking, that currently doesn’t have enough access to your products. Thorough research should bear out the best spots and neighbourhoods to get started on your new cannabis dispensary construction in Ontario. Location will depend in part on whether there’s an existing building you’ll fit up, or if you’re going to build from scratch

Also, remember some municipalities have opted out of having dispensaries, so make sure your new business will be welcome before you get too attached to any particular location. In the GTA, for instance, both Ajax and Brampton opted in for cannabis sales, while Caledon opted out. Check with AGCO for a complete list of Ontario municipalities that allow dispensaries

If you already have a retail operation, its location should play a prime roll in your decision as to where you’ll build a new cannabis facility. You’ll want two locations close enough you can look after both spots and transfer stock easily from one to another, but far enough they won’t poach clients from one another.

The Physical Design: Cannabis Dispensaries in Ontario

As could be expected, setting up to sell cannabis is not going to be as simple as setting up a shoe store. Instead, you’ll have some extra regulatory hoops to move during your cannabis construction process, based on the government’s desire to control the product’s sale and use.

Ontario’s regulations for cannabis dispensaries are governed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). AGCO has set out certain requirements for securing and displaying your wares.  

From outside, your name needs to be clearly visible. However, cannabis and its accessories can’t be visible from outside of your dispensary, so you’ll have to get creative to entice passing foot traffic. A welcoming separate entryway that puts a barrier between the outside door and your product inside is one way to attract customers in, while obstructing the view from the street. Attractive signage and clear branding might take the place of large display windows to give an idea of your business’ identity and personality. Your retail cannabis contractor can help you come up with a winning design for your store’s exterior.

Setting Up Displays: Balancing Form with Function

Cannabis retail regulations in Ontario require that stock should be accessible only to staff, not to your patrons. That means the inside of your retail outlet might look less like the LCBO, with products lining the shelves for customers to peruse, and more like the Beer Store where stock is out of reach for visitors. 

Despite the stringent rules regarding stock at cannabis retail stores, you have a lot of creative license over the setup and overall look of your shop. Like any other retail location you want the store to look clean and inviting, and be user-friendly for your visitors.

While cannabis won’t be stacked all over the store for your customers to browse, you can take advantage of that fact to maintain an uncluttered cannabis facility design / build. Sensory bins that allow customers to see and smell the products are allowed, as long as they’re well-secured. Sleek design that shows off a few wares in closed boxes will encourage purchase while upping the elegance factor in your outlet.

One way you might achieve this is to use display cases that double as counter tops, the way you might have seen at jewellery stores. For a more simplistic look, stock can be kept out of the way in a storage room while sensory displays indicate available products, like you may see in a store with expensive electronics.

If you have a large variety of products but want to maintain a clean look to your store, consider using devices with digital catalogues to allowing customers to browse products. This also gives you the opportunity to share more information about all your products without overwhelming your patrons.

Other Things to Consider

When you’re designing your retail cannabis facility, top of mind should be how you’ll satisfy the security requirements for cannabis stores in Ontario. All outside doors need to be well secured, of course. The store will also need high-resolution cameras and sufficient lighting showing storage areas, all exterior doors, and the cash register. A simple layout may require fewer cameras. Cannabis retail contractors can help you get the practicality you need and the design you want.

Another often left out aspect of building a retail business in Toronto is deciding who will handle your preventative maintenance of your retail facility. Choosing a certified commercial maintenance company in Toronto is great way to ensure your retail cannabis business doesn’t find itself shut down due to unforeseen maintenance repairs costing you time. 


Time to Make Your Dreams Come True With a Toronto Retail Cannabis Facility Builder

With these things in mind, it’s time to get imaginative and create the retail shop of your dreams! There are a number of cannabis retail designers and commercial builders that can help you decide on the best design for your new dispensary. 

Whether you have an old-timey jazz bar theme in mind, or you prefer a sleek, modern look, call our expert cannabis construction team to come up with the best retail cannabis design ideas to make your new venture a success. If you’re in the Toronto area, call us at GTA General Contractors to help get you started on building a cannabis retail store across Ontario.

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