Marijuana Dispensaries in Cliffside
By Janet Monk
The concentration of legal cannabis dispensaries on the northern side of Kingston Road in Cliffside – namely Wavy Buds, Stok’d, and Alpine Smoke – has dispensary operators facing stronger competition than they expected. “It is nice to see less commercial vacancies on Kingston Road in Cliffside Village, and to see licensed dispensaries versus the unlicensed types,” said local long-time Chiropractor Dr. GerardArbour. “It does appear to be a Ready – Fire – Aim approach to the government approval process however.”
Stok’d Cannabis has a location at 631 Pharmacy Avenue and has recently opened up a new branch at 2408 Kingston Road under the same name. “Our strategy was to have a couple of branches in relatively close proximity,” said Stok’d operator Lisa Bigioni. “None of the plazas on the south side of the street were willing to consider a cannabis retail store. As weeks and months and years go by that stigma will melt away, but it’s still pretty evident.” When Bigioni made the application for the new location of Stok’d, neither Alpine Smoke nor Wavy Buds had opened yet. “One of the challenges with the AGCO is that you don’t have any visibility to anyone else applying in the area. We actually bought the building that we are in, which is a longer process. The other two (dispensaries) popped up well after we had submitted our application.” Looking ahead, Stok’d aims to be a welcoming space for everyone in the diverse Cliffside community. “My vision is that one day, people coming into our store aren’t at all looking to smoke weed,” said Bigioni. “They’re looking for lotions, creams, bath bombs, gel caps, gummies, drinks – a variety of things for health and wellness, not necessarily for recreational use. In the stores we already have, we see everybody from nineteen to ninety-nine.”
Nick Williams, the operator of Wavy Buds Recreational Cannabis at 2448 Kingston Road, is located just a few doors east of Alpine Smoke. “My initial plan was to be the only one there. When I applied back in May 2020, there was nothing on the map. I had to readjust my game plan,” said Williams. “I used to be upset about it, but it gives the customers options. If there was just one specific company, whether you liked it or not, you’d have to go there. It makes us step our game up as well.” Williams takes a relatable, neighbourly approach to business at Wavy Buds, educating customers about the products and sometimes even introducing them to his friendly dog Roxie. Despite the competition and the pandemic, Williams remains positive about his business and his customers. “I realize the importance of having actual conversations with people, getting to know them, asking about their day, and building a genuine relationship with them. Customers come just to talk sometimes, and that makes me feel like this is more than just a business.”
Despite their differences, both Wavy Buds and Stok’d look forward to better serving, accommodating, and educating the Cliffside community while pandemic restrictions allow.
~ Janet Monk is an Author and Copy Editor with an HBA in Creative Writing, History, and Music and Culture from the University of Toronto – Scarborough. To make an inquiry or leave a comment, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.