Pot shops in West Vancouver aren’t serving the typical demographic of tokers.
Around 40 per cent of the customers coming into Avenue Cannabis are more than 60 years old, says co-founder Tim Webb, adding that the industry average for that age group is closer to eight per cent.
But West Van isn’t your average municipality, with median age 10 years above Metro Vancouver’s. The cannabis industry’s strongest cohort – 25- to 40-year-olds – make up just 11 per cent of the district’s population.
Avenue opened for business on Oct. 27. It’s just the second store to serve cannabis consumers in the district, and the first in the closest thing West Van has to an urban core, Ambleside. West Van's first pot shop is Happy Isle, which opened in Horseshoe Bay in June.
Given the municipality’s unique demographic, Webb said the types of products being sold skew differently as well. On average, B.C. stores are selling around 40 per cent flower, 20 per cent pre-rolls, and 20-25 per cent vapes, with the balance going to edibles, creams and other categories.
“Whereas we’re finding about 40 per cent of our sales so far are for more of the medicinal sort of things,” Webb explained.
Instead of looking for a buzz, he said many of his customers are interested in cannabis for other reasons.
“I believe that cannabis is going to be something that you see grow in our culture, not just from a smoking-a-joint point of view, [consumers] just want a more daily, medicinal thing – like if you can have a CBD gummy instead of Tylenol to go to sleep.”
While retail staff at Avenue or anywhere else in Canada can’t recommend cannabis for medical purposes, there are plenty of anecdotal accounts of people using pot products to help them sleep, or for some forms of pain mitigation.
'Classy and honest'
As for the store itself, the interior was created by Vancouver-based designer Juli Hodgson, who has designed Aritizia and Blue Ruby stores locally, as well as Choom’s cannabis retail location in Niagara, Ont.
Webb said the store is designed to feel like a high-end spa, and is laid out to walk the customers through different categories of products. He describes his staff’s approach as “classy and honest,” and they are there to inform customers rather than make a sale, he said.
The store has two dedicated parking stalls by the back entrance, which is wheelchair accessible. The store also has a wheelchair accessible washroom.
Webb said a significant investment was made to build the store, because the founders promised to deliver something respectful to the community.
It’s located on the main floor of a commercial building constructed more than 30 years ago by Chuck Walker, father of other Avenue co-founder, Shannon Walker, who's married to Webb.
Akin to his shop, Webb pointed out that a number of other noteworthy businesses – Ancora, Earls, Crema Cafe & Bar – have opened or are opening along the Bellevue Avenue strip.
“When you look at the quality of the money that’s being dumped into this to block, there is no other place on the North Shore like that,” he said.