Cannabis flowers on display at Pacificanna give customers chance to peruse their options before purchasing. (Nina Grossman/News staff)

Fairfield cannabis store gains footing after opening mid-pandemic

Victoria shop modeled after standard retail stores, displays

Walking through the front door of Fairfield’s first, and so far only, cannabis shop isn’t unlike walking into an Apple store.

Clean lines, white walls and bright displays at Pacificanna offer a blank canvas for the store’s products – flowers lined up in magnified capsules, edibles such as cookies, gummies and chocolates in illuminated showcases and a fridge full of beverages including lemon lime sparkling CBD drinks and THC-infused grapefruit sparkling waters.

It’s designed to be different than most cannabis vendors , says co-owner Darren Saunders.

“We wanted to make it more of a standard retail store, and when you go to a standard retail store, the products are on display,” he said. “We wanted to be light, bright and welcoming.”

READ ALSO: Unlicensed cannabis dispensaries now closed in Victoria

The family-owned cannabis store is one of many ventures the Saunders family has taken on, among them liquor stores and two other Pacificanna locations in Williams Lake and Port Hardy.

The Victoria location – nestled in a Fairfield strip mall between a bank and a nail salon – defies preconceptions about cannabis retailers as dark, downtown outliers. Buying cannabis is as simple as stopping at the bank or grocery store, Pacificanna tells customers. And for those who prefer not to chat, iPads and an online menu make information and pick up easily accessible for customers.

But opening had its share of challenges. After jumping through the bureaucratic hoops of selling legal cannabis, a global pandemic began.

Saunders said they decided to open anyway, closely following the guidelines of the provincial health officer. Unsure how Pacificanna would be received during that time, Saunders said the team was surprised by a fairly steady stream of customers.

“Sales have actually been up with liquor and cannabis … it’s turned out to be a positive thing for sure.”

Saunders said the family plans to open more locations but doesn’t have a timeline because of the approval process. He’s excited for the future of cannabis.

“It’s probably going to take at least another five years but it is normalizing,” he said. “Above all else people should just come check it out.”

READ ALSO: Two cannabis dispensaries in Esquimalt await provincial approval


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
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