Ben Kaplan: What separates Shivaa's Rose from the rest of retail experiences in Toronto?
Junior Sritharan: Shivaa’s Rose is a community-focused concept for the cannabis retail industry. We found elements of the cannabis shopping experience that were missing and wanted to provide a seamless solution. We have combined having an approachable interior space with clean designs for common consumers that want a quality experience, our knowledgeable budtender’s exemplary customer service, curated selection, and competitive pricing. At Shivaa’s Rose, we also understand that our clientele want rapid service, so we offer an option for 1-hour delivery. We are excited to become a staple within our location’s neighbourhood.
BK: Tell me about your origin story. When did it start? Why weed?
JS: My first endeavour in the hospitality space really taught me what it felt like to build an inclusive community. While building one of Toronto’s leading hospitality and lifestyle businesses, we created an excellent network of guests, partners, and colleagues. Many of which, connected with us through our shared love for cannabis. When the opportunity presented itself to join the licensed cannabis community, we knew it was the perfect time to combine our passions with our experiences, by launching one of the first-ever minority-owned cannabis retail concept.
BK: What has COVID meant to your business?
JS: Our journey into the realm of the cannabis industry began a couple of months prior to COVID-19. Building and launching a cannabis retail store during a global pandemic certainly comes with its own set of challenges. Despite the hurdles we face, like the government not allowing in-store shopping experiences for cannabis retailers, whereas the LCBO has been allowed to remain open, we have remained and will continue to remain, committed to providing an unparalleled experience for all of our guests.
BK: Where are you in your grand opening process?
JS: Shivaa’s Rose opened its doors to the Bloordale community on February 14th, however, we still haven’t considered it to be a grand opening until our guests can discover our in-store experience. The store is an experience; and without the physical presence and open environment; we feel our customers haven’t yet had the chance to feel the difference in what we offer. There is a beautiful mural inside the store painted by our friends at @OneDayCreates that we cannot wait to unveil to the public.
BK: What do you want to accomplish?
JS: We want to raise the standard for cannabis retail. In an industry like ours; there’s still an unwarranted stigma around cannabis. We built our store from the ground up by listening to community members, budtenders, and cannasseurs on what they care about. We understand cannabis as a culture and we are here to help elevate the culture and experience associated with it.
BK: What are the short, mid and long-term goals of your operation?
JS: We are a young, diverse, and forward-thinking team that is looking to build an all-inclusive household brand, that is known for being a rapid and reliable service.
BK: Talk about weed and you personally. Why cannabis?
JS: We grew up in an immigrant community where cannabis was a means of interaction, sharing, and coming together amongst peers of my age group. We chose to open up a cannabis retail store because we believe this is a plant with great history and great potential, which cannot be guided by the loudest voices in the market. We see what is happening in our communities with larger corporations trying to create an oligopoly. As an independent store with a focus on community; we wanted to take the initiative to ensure there is minority representation in the Canadian cannabis landscape.
BK: What does success look like for Shivaa's rose, and what’s the name of your shop mean?
JS: Success to us means to bring community-based businesses back into the spotlight. The words that come to mind when we think of “Shivaa” are universal, beginning and transcending. For “Rose,” it’s flower, beauty and love. All of the words that come to mind, can also come together. This is what makes the name Shivaa's Rose so powerful to us.