BK: You guys go out of your way to promote culture. Why is that important to what you do?
MC: If you're not creating a culture, people can't identify with you and where you stand. Customers need to know who they’re purchasing from and how invested they are with the product they are selling.
BK: What does culture mean to you?
MC: I think culture doesn’t have to encompass tons of frills and pretty displays, but I think it speaks to how your employees are treated and how they treat customers. We strive to create genuine connections because that’s how you build loyalty and trust.
BK: When did you know your concept for Relm was working?
MC: We were one of the very first retailers to open in Ontario, so we had no one to compare ourselves to at first, but when more stores started opening, you could see pretty clearly that we had gone a different route. Different things mattered to us, like quality products at a good price.
BK: Talk about the early days.
MC: In the beginning, no one knew what to expect, just in terms of what customer-facing retail would entail in terms of customer service. However, when the initial Beatles-craze calmed down, we had a better understanding of the LPs and quality of product and the ins and outs of what we could do for our customers.
BK: How crazy were things when you first opened up?
MC: The first two months were just beyond. We had a lineup out the door from open to close! It was pandemonium for two months.
BK: And now?
MC: And now we have things worked out a bit better. Once we took a step back, we became more efficient. We’re now able to meet the needs of a wide range of customers, from the seasoned user to the first-time consumer. The important thing is we’re learning as we go.
BK: Talk about the vibe in your store.
MC: Laid back, easy and simple. We don't convolute our service. We keep it basic. People want to come in and get a good scope of what's available and talk to one budtender—they place their order and leave and that’s what works for us. Of course, if you want to stay and ask questions, we totally accommodate that. But customers seem to have gravitated toward us keeping it simple.
BK: I feel like 97% of retailers said they wanted to be the Apple Store of Weed.
MC: We don’t do bells and whistles and give you an Apple Store vibe—I mean, it’s definitely not a lacklustre space—but our customers aren’t paying for something that looks super edgy. They’re paying for great products, superior education, and us being super authentic and efficient—that’s the vibe of our store.
BK: Buying weed shouldn’t be stressful.
MC: It’s supposed to relieve stress!
BK: What brought you into this business?
MC: I worked in the cannabis accessory world many years ago, then corporate retail and our GM called me up when he started: ‘Want to get back into the cannabis world?’ I gave my two weeks in retail and started as a budtender for my first month, they saw my potential and the rest is history.
BK: What makes your budtenders special?
MC: We’re part of the culture. Cannabis is something I’ve always believed in. It’s from the earth and meant to be enjoyed and I think all of us at Relm know it’s a great thing. A lot of industries might not be doing great things, might be a detriment to the planet, but not cannabis. We love cannabis at Relm.
BK: That’s awesome. And what’s coming down the pipeline with you people this spring?
MC: We’re excited. There’s new users coming to the plant, old users finding new products and people in between just getting used to the legal market. I welcome everyone to come in, enjoy our clean, well-lit space and meet our budtenders, who are all passionate and nice. After all, treating our customers properly is what we care about.