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First look: West Van’s premier pot shop opens Friday

Its owners say they want to create a community feel by getting to know their neighbours, and showing respect to both consumers and non-consumers of cannabis

On the opening day of West Vancouver’s first pot shop, the store won’t be blowing smoke.

“We’re just going to open the door,” explained David Bellringer, co-owner of Happy Isle Cannabis in Horseshoe Bay.

When they opened their first and only other location, on Bowen Island three years ago, the only real feedback they got from local government was not to bang the pots and pans.

“You don’t need to fly the balloons and wave the flags,” added Glenn Cormier, the store’s other co-owner. Cannabis consumers will come.

“We have to respect the fact that there are people in this community who are not looking forward to it,” he said. “And we don't want to be in their face.”

In part, it’s this community-minded approach that won them one of only two cannabis retail licences in the district.

“We made a conscious choice to come to Horseshoe Bay,” Cormier continued. Coming to the seaside village was a natural next step for the company. “We like the idea of servicing a small community where you get to know your customers and their preferences.”

The adjacent ferry terminal brings a lot of through-traffic, but Cormier said that’s not the backbone of their business.

Instead, the owners said customers can expect customer service from highly educated staff, which will help guide people through the buying process.

With 450 different product listings, choices can be daunting.

“We have a great deal of trust with our customers,” operations manager Rob Forbes said. “We have several customers [who] will come in and say, ‘You pick for me.’”

Getting to know their neighbours is a big part of their business, and staff will build up customer profiles for regulars.

And if you’re new to cannabis, or would otherwise appreciate the privacy of a one-on-one private consultation, you can call the store directly to make a personal appointment outside of regular hours.

While most of the product selection is dried flower and pre-rolls, Happy Isle will also sell vapes, oils, capsules, concentrates, topicals, edibles and drinks.

The small store’s bright interior features sky blue walls, painted white panels, and wood accents throughout.

Despite designing the store to show no product from the outside, the front windows are frosted as required by provincial inspectors. But the owners are trying to change this, for a more inviting atmosphere and to increase safety for staff.

Happy Isle won’t offer delivery for the time being, but it’s being considered for a later date.

Avenue Cannabis in Ambleside, the district's other approved store, is expected to open sometime this summer.

Happy Isle Cannabis opening day

Where: 6609 Royal Ave., West Vancouver

When: Friday, June 10. 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Book appointment: 604-926-8700